The fight for the Labour leadership is truly under way and came to Tauranga this week.
It's not often the glare of national politics centres on the Bay, but the three hopefuls - David Cunliffe, Grant Robertson and Shane Jones - spoke at the Wesley Centre on Wednesday night before 120 party members and affiliates.
The forum gave the hopefuls the chance to make their pitch but one created a stir beforehand with an outburst against Tauranga MP Simon Bridges.
Shane Jones, in an interview with this newspaper, lashed out at Mr Bridges by calling him a "smirking pup" who had limited influence within National.
The "pup" comment came after Mr Jones was asked about Tauranga's troublesome $61 million Route K debt.
He went on to claim in his opinion Mr Bridges was uncaring in failing to adequately address safety concerns in the forestry industry. Mr Bridges earlier this year refused to launch an inquiry into the dangerous industry.
Mr Jones then made reference to what he described as Mr Bridges' "trademark smirk".
Politics is a tough game and being criticised is part of the job.
But this attack went off course. Sure, Mr Jones has pitched himself as the non-PC, grass-roots candidate but publicly calling a rival names and resorting to criticising facial expressions, real or imagined, is not what great leaders do.
Mr Jones ended up playing the player, not the ball, and it was unseemly and lame.
Mr Jones lacks leadership polish and his disgraceful scandal involving using a taxpayer-funded credit card to pay for hotel room porn movies in 2010 also makes him unsuitable.
I don't agree with everything Mr Bridges says or does, with the lack of a forestry inquiry an example, but as a Cabinet minister for just over six months he is a rising National star who is performing strongly and has the confidence of his prime minister.
When asked to respond to Mr Jones' comments for yesterday's article, Mr Bridges did the right thing by refusing to stoop to his name-calling level. He did, however, say he did not believe Mr Jones had any chance of winning the leadership.
Mr Bridges on the other hand is on track to become a senior Cabinet minister and could even be prime minister one day.