Thursday, December 8, 2022

Wendy Geus: Gaurav Sharma Co-stars as Potaka’s Lucky Charm…

Poll indicates National’s Tama Potaka will blitz the field in Hamilton West by-election

The media are flailing around searching for other missiles to chuck at Luxon over the Hamilton West byelection, as their ‘not another pale, stale, male’ line has become redundant with National’s selection of high calibre candidate Tama Potaka.

I must admit I had my doubts when he was announced as National’s Hamilton West candidate, given seasoned, likeable politician Tim McIndoe was keen to get back into the political fray. As former National MP for Hamilton West for 12 years he had the massive advantage of being a known candidate.

With Labour’s 6,000 majority after their freak win in 2020, by deception as it turned out, you would think National would choose an easy option of a known local candidate. I thought at the time they had chosen the ‘push the heavy boulder uphill’ option.

However it appears I was wrong; they have come up trumps with their new candidate, who polled 46% against Labour’s (Dansey) 33% in the Taxpayer Union Working Group – Curia Poll released on Monday 5 December. Unfortunately Sharma only received 4%.

Ever the gentleman McIndoe got the message and announced early on that he would not be standing. Not only that, he attended the first debate (and possibly the second) along with former Hamilton East MP David Bennett as cheerleaders for the new candidates. Nice one guys.

Hamilton is now known as the ram raid capital of NZ. Running on the law and order and cost of living crisis ticket Labour is making it easy for National to get their feet back in the door of this electorate.

Lawyer Potaka, who has an impressive academic and career background along with a charismatic easy-going style, is being received well by the locals; he also has Sharma, whose hatred for Jacinda knows no bounds, to thank for constantly ramming home the negative Labour narrative every time he opens his mouth. The charming chatterbox had been somewhat of a lucky charm. I am sure Potaka can hardly believe his luck.

Sharma and Potaka certainly added some drama and sizzle to what could have been a boring political debate on a Monday night. Sharma is the incurable optimist, a glass-half-full type of guy. I watched him on Monday night with his quick-witted easy fluent style and thought if he were Labour’s leader, National would not have the advantage they have right now and of course would not be contesting this seat!

National leader Chris Luxon, the campaign team and volunteers have been putting in the hard yards behind Potaka, led by campaign manager Chris Bishop who somehow managed to run the show from Sydney for part of last week! The voter turnout is low so far, expected for this time of the year; however, voting day on Saturday should bring more out.

There has not been much attention from the media about the Hamilton West poll; they have been telling us Hamilton West has been a bellwether seat, (an indicator which way the next election will go) every year but one. The writing is on the wall.

However Radio NZ and Claire Trevett would probably rather not call it yet!

On a night where another poll, One News Kantar, showed National and ACT were comfortably ahead of Labour with 64 seats and could govern alone, this will be great news for the once beleaguered party to finish the year.

A party revived by Chris Luxon who must take a lot of the credit. Fingers crossed.

Wendy Geus is a former speechwriter and generalist communications advisor in local government. She now writes for the pure love of it. This article was originally published HERE

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