Tauranga MP Simon Bridges says he is the right person to lead the National Party, win the 2020 election and tackle Jacindamania.
Bridges put his hand up for the National Party leadership, announcing his bid at Parliament yesterday morning saying he believed he was the right person to lead the National Party to victory, bringing experience as well as a generational change.
Tauranga's community leaders are backing Bridges, saying if he is successful he will be able to play a key role in tackling the city's problems including traffic, housing and social issues.
Other National Party MPs to officially put their names forward for the top job include Amy Adams and Judith Collins. Bridges is considered a front-runner for the National Party leadership.
Bridges said he decided to stand late on Monday night after talking with colleagues after Bill English's announcement he was stepping down as leader as of February 27.
He said many colleagues were backing him and over the next two weeks and he would continue talks and let them know why he was the "right person to lead National into the next election".
"I believe we've got the best team, person to person, and values and we'll continue to develop and evolve them.
"I know we can win against Labour, Greens, New Zealand First coalition."
He said whoever won the leadership contest needed to be able to win the next election and combat what has been dubbed Jacindamania and "I obviously believe I bring that".
He did not want to discuss deputy leadership as he was focused on his campaign.
"I'm pretty excited about this. I'm looking forward to the next two weeks.
Bridges said, on top of the support of his colleagues, he had the backing of his wife Natalie.
"Nat's view is we've come this far, and we should go with it," Bridges said.
The 41-year-old, who has three children, said he has held a broad range of portfolios and "been a minister that works 24/7" so he was aware of the time he would need to dedicate to the leadership role but would actively ensure he set aside family time too.
During Bridges' announcement he paid tribute to departing leader English, saying he learned a lot from him and said he had the highest regard for others who would seek leadership.
He did not want to outline his policy priorities: "I just don't think today is the day for that."
Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless said Bridges' announcement was "great" and believed having a Tauranga person in such an important role in government, was vital to the future growth of the city.
He said he was behind Bridges, given he was aware of the city's problems around transport, housing and social issues, and believed he would be a strong advocate as the leader of the Opposition party.
"I'm one of those people that I just want to be treated fairly."
Nigel Tutt, the chief executive of economic development agency Priority One, said Tauranga was in desperate need for someone to tackle its issues and believed Bridges was a great person to do so given he had done a great job advocating for the city.
He said Tauranga was one of the fastest growing regions in the country and the city needed "political support keep that growth up" to boost the economy, which also meant improving the city's infrastructure.
"It's very easy for us to be forgotten by Wellington, it's so easy for people to get focused on the big issues in Auckland ... we need to get our share of the love," Tutt said.
National's Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller could not be reached for comment.