Is it smart for Chloe Swarbrick to try to win the Auckland Central seat for the Greens?
Labour stalwarts have been taking every chance to say no. They reckon the Greens don't have a chance and all they will do is split the centre-left vote, allowing National to hold the seat. They believe their candidate, employment lawyer Helen White, will make a good MP.
Above all, they want that seat back: Auckland Central was safe for Labour until Nikki Kaye came along in 2008 and partied all over them.
All those assumptions bear a little scrutiny.
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In terms of party votes, Auckland Central is one of the Greens' strongholds. But with the candidate vote it's one of the most marginal: Kaye beat White by just 1581 last election and she beat Jacinda Ardern by a mere 600 votes in 2014.
In that fierce contest, the Greens have been nowhere. The vote for their candidate, Denise Roche, did not reach even 10 per cent in the past three elections.
But during those same elections the Greens didn't really go after the candidate vote. As a matter of party strategy, they did not stand in the way of Ardern or White.
The Greens claim to a legitimate challenge this year rests largely on Swarbrick herself. She proved in 2016 that she knows how to campaign, coming from nowhere, with no big campaign organisation behind her, to finish third with 29,098 votes.
Since then, as an MP, she has been a leading voice on several issues, including mental health and drug law reform.
Compare her advocacy for cannabis reform to the role played by Labour's supposed leading lights on the issue. The underlying principle of the proposed reform is that cannabis use should be seen as a health issue, not a criminal one, but the Minister of Health during most of the time we've been debating it, David Clark, has basically been missing in action. Justice Minister Andrew Little, who introduced the bill, has also largely kept his head down.
White made the odd claim last weekend that Swarbrick is merely a celebrity politician, which possibly said something about her judgment. Even Swarbrick's enemies usually acknowledge she's the real deal: A diligent, effective, well-known and much-admired politician.
The Greens say those attributes mean all bets are off. If anyone can win the seat for them, it's her.
And they remember: Auckland Central wasn't always Labour before Kaye. In the first-past-the-post election of 1993, Sandra Lee won it for the Alliance. When the candidate is right and the stars align, these things happen.
As for White, she didn't do well in 2017. In the Auckland Central party vote that year there was a 16.04 per cent swing to Labour, but the vote for her as candidate went the other way, with a 3.8 per cent swing away from Labour. Not to Kaye, as it happens, but to Roche.
Strangely, White has spent the three years since then not building her profile among the public. If she planned another go at knocking over Nikki Kaye, why didn't she turn herself into a candidate we're all talking about?
Would she make a good MP? We don't know, but we're likely to find out soon enough: White's list ranking of 48 is easily high enough to put her into Parliament on current polling, whatever happens in the electorate.
For the Greens, different questions arise. Swarbrick's campaign will help them in many ways, but it could also damage them.
For starters, door knocking in the electorate will limit her ability to campaign around the country. Swarbrick is one of her party's most potent weapons, especially among all those young people who are supposedly Green-aligned but for various reasons don't vote.
Having her more tied to the electorate could undermine not just the Green vote, but the cannabis reform vote too.
Even in Auckland Central there may be a negative impact. Swarbrick is running a clear two ticks campaign, but many centre-left voters may want to use one of those ticks to register their personal approval of Jacinda Ardern.
Also, if Swarbrick wins the seat, she will have an independent power base. Will that be disruptive inside the party? Will it destabilise the leadership?
But does any of that actually matter?
For the Greens, it's not hard to see the positives easily outweigh the negatives. Swarbrick's higher profile will resonate around the country anyway: She may not turn up in your local community hall, but she's more likely now to be on the telly, and to be talked about on the telly.
There are 100,000 people working in the central city, most of whom will see her billboards on their commute. That means her local campaign is in effect also a citywide campaign.
Her electorate campaign raises the whole party's profile.
Beyond all that, there are the polls. The Greens sit a little above the 5 per cent threshold for being in Parliament without a seat. If they slip below, without winning Auckland Central, they will be gone. If they go, they will find it extremely hard to get back.
For the centre-left, this election, in that seat, is not about Helen White and it's barely even about Chloe Swarbrick.
It's about insurance. For progressive voters of all parties, the issue is whether they think the Green Party should have that insurance, to retain their influence in Parliament, now and through the decade of inevitable crisis and change unfolding before us.