National's recently defeated, but still high-profile, health spokesman Shane Reti is the favourite among his colleagues to take over from Gerry Brownlee as the party's deputy leader next week.
Brownlee – who lost his long-held Ilam electorate seat in the election – said today he would not be seeking reappointment as the deputy leader when Caucus meets on Tuesday.
Instead, he said he would be focusing on rebuilding National's base in Christchurch.
"It's time to think about the three years ahead. I want Judith [Collins] to have the strongest and most complementary support beside her as leader," he said.
When it comes to his replacement, there was only really one name on National Party MPs' lips: Reti.
This is despite the fact Reti lost his Whangārei seat in the special votes today by 431 votes.
A number of National MPs told the Herald Reti was the clear choice to take over from Brownlee.
One MP said Reti was Collins' top pick for deputy.
"The only question is whether or not there is going to be a contest for it [the deputy job]," the MP said.
Another said, going through the caucus, there were not a lot of options.
But Reti was the one who sprung to mind, they said.
A number of outgoing MPs also told the Herald Reti was the obvious choice.
"My pick: 90 per cent it will be Shane Reti," one said. "He is the obvious choice."
"He was one of the few who performed well during the election campaign," another said, adding that he had established respect within National Party circles, as well as across Parliament.
The departure of Brownlee from the leadership position was not unexpected.
He was non-committal when previously asked if he wanted to stay in the job.
Collins said not long after the election that she and Brownlee had been handed the "hospital pass from hell".
Brownlee said today: "While I was proud to step in at the time, and remain so, I've always believed that influence is more important than position when it comes to politics."
He said New Zealand faced challenging times.
"For some time to come, coronavirus and the fallout from responding to it, along with the importance of keeping its effects away from our shores, will be the dominant activities for both the Government and Opposition."
After the special votes were released today, National lost two MPs and three seats were flipped.
Whangārei, Maungakiekie and Northland all went to Labour, meaning the MPs from the latter two electorates – Denise Lee and Matt King – are out of Parliament.
King is appealing for a recount.