New political hopeful and National Party Napier candidate Katie Nimon has been given a hope of a list seat in Parliament after a rankings rearrangement announced by party leader Judith Collins at the weekend.
Not on any previous list, the Havelock North bus company operator comes in at No 45 – the highest-ranked new candidate and just one position below lowest-ranked current Opposition parliamentarian Jo Hayes (a List MP standing in the Mana electorate).
By contrast, former Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon, a first-time candidate standing in Botany electorate and touted for more than a year as a National Party leader of the future, is ranked just 61 of the 75 on the list.
Officially, nominations open at the end of this week, and close on August 21. The vote ends on September 19.
Nimon was told of the placement by the National Party lower North Island region leadership a few hours before the late Saturday release.
A member of the party "off-and-on" since about 2008, and confirmed as the candidate in May, she's already into the "fun" door-knocking, hoarding placement and other electioneering.
She described the List placement as "fairly exciting", but reckoned it's "just a number" until the election is decided.
She does, however, need a significant rise in the party's fortunes, with latest polling forecasting a National Party caucus of little more than 30 MPs. It currently has 54.
Tukituki MP Lawrence Yule sits at 33 on Collins' list meaning a victory over Labour candidate Anna Lorck may be necessary to ensure his return to Wellington.
Campaign and party Napier electorate chairman Ben Simmons said that with Napier having had only one National Party MP in the past 65 years (2005-2014 MP Chris Tremain) the candidate's ranking reflected party headquarters faith in the candidate and the electorate.
"We've been working hard since late last year, selecting a candidate and then supporting her," he said. "We are absolutely thrilled to get that endorsement."
The Napier seat is held by Minister of Police Stuart and Labour Party candidate Stuart Nash, but Simmons said: "We can win Napier."
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters' New Zealand First Party has released another tranch of candidates throughout the country, but still has no one named for the Napier or Hastings-based Tukituki electorates.