Stellar candidate on the way?

Note: this post originally appeared on ‘Douglas to Dancing’, a blog I maintained from 2007-9 on the ACT New Zealand political party. The blog was an extension of the thesis I wrote about the Act Party in 2007, From Douglas to Dancing: explaining the lack of success of ACT New Zealand and evaluating its future prospects (PDF).

It might not be Tim Shadbolt, but it sounds like a “stellar candidate” is in the works for ACT this election. I’ve had a tip-off from inside the party that a prominent New Zealander has been recruited to stand for ACT at the election. I don’t know who it is, but an annoucement is apparently expected soon.

This may come to nothing, of course: last year the rumour was that ACT was targeting the Rakaia electorate and had almost concluded signing up a prominent local person to stand in the seat. There was no announcement, although to be fair to ACT, the electoral boundaries were changed later in the year. The party may have deemed these changes disadvantaged the chances of ACT winning the seat so much that it was pointless to continue (e.g. by altering the demographics in each seat).

I don’t know whether the candidate to be announced soon will be an electorate candidate as was planned for Rakaia, or a list candidate. ACT needs to boost its party vote, so it should be the latter. But leader Rodney Hide’s favoured strategy appears to be targeting electorates and winning these on local issues. Hide of course will be defending his Epsom electorate, while Heather Roy has been put in to contest the Wellington Central electorate seat.

If there is a stellar candidate planned, I think the announcement will be sooner rather than later. Perhaps he or she will be unveiled at the 2008 conference in March. ACT will want to give the candidate a substantial lead-in to the election so s/he can generate some name recognition and more importantly, a connection with the party.

More when I hear it.

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