Despite Gareth Morgan saying his The Opportunity Party would be list nly and would not contest electorates, yesterday he announced that his chief of staff Geoff Simmons will contest the Mt Albert by-election.
Millionaire economist Gareth Morgan has confirmed his party will take on Labour MP Jacinda Ardern in this month’s Mt Albert by-election.
However, Morgan himself will not run. Instead, his Opportunity Party chief of staff Geoff Simmons has put his name forward to run in the February 25 by-election.
Speaking in front of a van promising to “Make New Zealand fair again” Morgan said the decision of several parties not to contest the by-election meant there was “an opportunity here to do something for the people of Mt Albert”.
When was New Zealand fair before now?
It looks like Morgan sees an opportunity to have a practice campaign at electorate level and build some party profile.
Simmons, an economist with a regular interview slot on RNZ, had been responsible for a lot of the policy work at the Morgan Foundation and was “extremely literate in all that material”.
With the TOP emphasis on policy Simmons could make the campaign interesting if he challenges the cosy Labour-Green plans to promote themselves jointly.
It will be good if Simmons can test Jacinda Ardern’s policy mettle and force her into doing more than play her photo-op magazine style of campaigning.
In a reference to Ardern and Green Party candidate Julie Anne Genter, Morgan said Simmons would act as “a thorn between the two roses”.
TOP are unlikely to get close to threatening the outcome by it will be good to see Simmons challenging the cushy co-party arrangement.
There’s a real risk to Labour here – that Simmons and Genter will overshadow if not overwhelm Ardern in serious policy debate, unless the show pony can prove she can tackle the hard stuff as well.