So two ballots and Bridges wins. Not really a surprise, but possibly a mistake and, if not a mistake, a real risk. More on that shortly.
The deputy seemed to catch some by surprise. I have no idea why. The Bennett issue appeared to be based around the fact that she was somehow involved in the Peters super-saga, and she was going to be punished for it.
If National thinks its future relies on sucking up to Peters they may as well pack up and try another profession now. Peters' days of playing one off against another are over.
Peters has hung his hat on Labour and he lives and dies with Labour. He's never going National, that was laid bare post election. So there is no need to appease him, therefore no point in making it an issue with Bennett. Bennett at one point should have been leader, I suggested it when Key quit - Joyce or Bennett. One can't help but wonder how different matters might be now if that had happened.
But she is an excellent deputy, a brilliant MP, very good in the house, a female, has wit, a natural charm and - oh God I'm talking myself into wanting her to be the leader - but at the very least she deserves to hold her job if that what she wants.
Bridges though, boy. Short of Mitchell winning, he's your biggest risk. He could turn into a Key, most of us wrote Key off as a great leader early. How could all that nerdiness turn into charm? But it did. If Bridges can pull off the same trick, good on him. But he's been around, I would have thought, long enough to show signs of it, and I have yet to see it.
His speech yesterday was classic prefect. All upward inflection and idealistic cliché. He allegedly represents change in a party that's actually successful. He has to carve out a persona from a base of actual success.
New leadership is easier when your party is a mess, you've been pummelled in the polls and there's only one way forward and that's up. But here, he's got the keys to the Bentley, and he's looking for a booster cushion.
However, and here's the critical bit, he needs to reshuffle in a way that doesn't cause factions. He needs to keep a lid on the disappointed. And he needs to show somehow that what the caucus sees in him but I don't is going to get up in the government's grill and rattle them.
No pressure then.