It has been only eight days since the revelation National MP Alfred Ngaro is considering leading a new Christian party.
But he has already been gazumped by political novices and evangelicals Brian and Hannah Tamaki, who have brought forward the launch of their own party.
Time is not on Ngaro's side.
Ngaro was caught unprepared for the revelation about his own plans, and so was National leader Simon Bridges.
They thought they had a few more months of thinking and scheming.
The fact they were both flummoxed and came clean after two days looked as though they had hatched the plan together.
Bridges insists he has not been part of the planning.
Ngaro insists he is not considering it as part of a plan to give National a potential coalition friend.
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Even if their protestations were believable, this is already a potentially damaging association for National that needs to be properly managed.
Bridges needs to set Ngaro a deadline, perhaps two more weeks, and set out some pre-conditions.
If Ngaro decides he wants to establish a Christian Party, he should be required to resign from National and Parliament immediately.
It should be made clear to him that no matter how friendly he expects his party to be to National, anyone setting up new party should have to do so using their own resources, not those of the National Party or the parliamentary resources given to him as a list MP.
A decision by Ngaro to set up a new party would not be viewed as a defection by National, but issues of probity would persist in the media unless he made a clean break from Parliament.
It would be unacceptable to have him sit in the National caucus if he had decided to form a new party.
It would also be unacceptable for him to exit National's caucus but remain in Parliament under National's list entitlement until he had built his profile sufficiently to leave.
Staying on would fuel the perception his new party was a puppet party of National.
Under the waka-jumping law , a list MP is treated the same as an electorate MP. Like Jami-Lee Ross, in the absence of any letter from Bridges to the Speaker, Ngaro could sit in the back of the chamber continuing to vote and collect a salary.
But his situation would be viewed more cynically by the public than Ross' because Ngaro is a list MP. National could engineer Jami-lee Ross' resignation from Parliament with a letter but he stays under sufferance because a byelection in Botany could buy more trouble than it was worth.
The longer Bridges allows Ngaro to make up his mind, the bigger a distraction it will be and the more disorganised National appears to be.
It must also be disturbing for more liberal elements of National that the party is being so closely associated with causes that rally social conservatives, legalising cannabis , liberalising abortion laws and euthanasia , all before Parliament.
The peril for Bridges is that if Ngaro goes ahead and forms a Christian Party and steadily build support, it could take support from National down into the 30s, setting up the conditions for a leadership replacement.
The signs, however, do not point to success. The only one of the three issues guaranteed to be still live next election is the referendum on cannabis. Abortion and euthanasia may well have run their legislative course by then and be settled.
If New Zealand First does not secure a referendum for the euthanasia during the committee stages of the bill, it could be difficult for David Seymour to get the bill passed its third reading.
It is also debatable whether Ngaro is the right person to lead a party. He may be a devout Christian and a lot more likeable and experienced than most of the others who have tried and failed.
But he is possibly not extreme enough or newsworthy enough in what is now becoming a noisy market place.
As Ngaro explained some of his views to the Herald this week , and apologised for some previous comments on abortion, it became clear that he is relatively reasonable.
He opposes abortion but he does not want to tell women what to do with their bodies. He wants more support for women to make other choices.
He opposed the gay marriage bill but he would still attend the same-sex wedding of a close friend or family member. He would draw the line at conducting a gay marriage ceremony.
He is not wacky or unusual enough to guarantee himself and party a high profile in next year's election. He is the non-Christian's Christian.
Contrast him with Hannah Tamaki. Her hunting-lodge launch of Coalition New Zealand , her home-baked witticism (with 11 herbs and spices), and passive-aggressive leadership is clearly going to be a compelling magnet for attention next election in the same way Colin Craig, Gareth Morgan and the Internet Party have been in the past as the new shiny thing.
Let's assume Ngaro won't be joining her, despite her invitation, and he goes it alone with his own party, secures funding and organisational expertise – large assumptions.
There is also an assumption that Ngaro's support would come from soft voters who supported Labour and New Zealand First last election and are disgruntled that drugs, euthanasia and abortion have returned to the political agenda under their watch and that it could contribute to the demise of New Zealand First.
There is no evidence, however, that a voter whose primary motivations are social issues such as abortion and euthanasia would not also have supported National last election.
The formation of a moderate Christian party could draw votes from conservative elements of all three parties but not necessarily enough to cross the 5 per cent threshold or eliminate the threshold by winning a seat.
The conservative Christian field is splintered. Ngaro might be the best chance in a long time for a credible Christian party but the chance of success remain slim.
Ngaro may be flattered into doing it. Either way, it's make-up-your-mind time.