Long-time National Party loyalist Simon O'Connor was selected late last night as candidate for the safe Tamaki seat in Auckland to replace the ailing MP Allan Peachey.
The 35-year-old beat former United Future president Denise Krum in the third round of voting at the selection meeting. The health insurance executive is a shoo-in to enter Parliament - Mr Peachey's majority last election was a whopping 17,000 votes.
Mr O'Connor has been managing list MP Cam Calder's re-election campaign but will now quit that role to campaign full time in Tamaki.
He recently completed a masters degree in political studies with first-class honours at the University of Auckland and holds three other degrees.
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Mr O'Connor completed his training to be a Catholic priest but did not seek ordination. A party spokesman said he instead sought "wider involvement in the community to make a practical, hands-on difference".
Mr O'Connor was not available for comment last night, but in a statement said: "This is an electorate which deserves a strong voice within the National caucus. I will work hard to earn the trust and respect of our community, and know I have fairly large boots to fill."
Electorate chairman Andrew Hunt said Mr O'Connor was selected over other high-quality nominees such as Ms Krum, lawyer Seby Reeves, former Wellington Central candidate Mark Thomas and former Auckland City councillor Toni Millar.