Former Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman has ruled himself out of National’s leadership race, saying the best person for the job is among the three declared candidates.
On Wednesday, Simon Bridges, Judith Collins and Amy Adams all announced they were seeking National’s leadership.
Coleman won’t say which of the three he is supporting, only that that person will be “the best to beat Labour” in the 2020 election.
He says no one has asked him not to stand and he has not canvased the numbers.
“In the end, I looked at who would be best to lead the party and it’s one of those three.”
After the resignation of John Key in 2016, Coleman had a run at the leadership but pulled his bid before Caucus voted.
With Coleman ruled out, the only National MPs remaining who are still considering a run are ex-Finance Minister Steven Joyce and Rodney MP Mark Mitchells.
Meanwhile, Collins says this is the first time the National Party has had a “proper vote” for its leader in 12 years.
She says when former Prime Minister John Key nabbed the top job, it was “pretty much an agreement” and didn’t go to a Caucus vote. With Bill English, he was the last candidate standing after the others dropped out of the race.
“I have been in Parliament for 15 years and this is an extraordinary opportunity for Caucus, and an extraordinary opportunity for members of the Party for them to be able to tell Caucus what they think,” Collins says.
When pressed on the deputy leadership of the Party, Collins was not giving much away – saying a vote on the deputy is “entirely up to the Caucus."
Current National Party deputy, Paula Bennett, says she wants to stay in the job as she believes that is where she has the most to add.
In terms of a shadow cabinet, Collins says she would like to see more diversity – be that ethnic or gender – but stressed it’s important promotions are always made “on merit.”