Long-standing National MP Gerry Brownlee announced he would not contest the Ilam electorate at the next election, a strong indication he wants to be Speaker should National win in 2023.
Brownlee has stood in the Christchurch electorate of Ilam at each election since he entered Parliament in 1996 - he contested the 1993 election in neighbouring Sydenham, but lost to Alliance leader Jim Anderton.
He won each race save 2020, when he was ousted by Labour's Sarah Pallett.
"It has been a privilege to represent the people of Ilam as their MP from 1996 to 2020, and most recently as a list-MP based in Christchurch – but I will not be seeking re-selection as an electorate candidate in 2023," Brownlee said.
"I want to contribute to a National government, and so will be a list-only candidate in 2023.
"I have no doubt National will find a strong candidate for Ilam, and that person will have my full support," he said.
Since the advent of MMP, Speakers have tended to go on the party list rather than contest electorates.
Brownlee is a board nominee to the list, meaning he will be guaranteed a high ranking. National gives at least five high list-only spots to candidates nominated by the party's board.
Brownlee appeared to play down speculation about the Speaker's role when he was asked about it by media on Tuesday, ahead of announcing his decision to run exclusively on the list.
"What, and suffer the barbs and arrows from people like yourself? My goodness, I'm not that much of a... what's the term?" Brownlee said.
Ilam had been considered a safe blue seat for National, but the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake saw Brownlee's once comfortable majority erode.
In 2017, independent candidate Raf Manji managed to place second against Brownlee, whose majority fell by 11.4 per cent, paving the way for his loss to Pallett in 2020.
Pallett was buoyed by the massive swing towards Labour in 2020 following the Covid-19 response. Brownlee had been expected to win the seat back, had he stood there in 2023, given National was now performing far better in polls.
The tactic mirrors one used by the current Speaker, Trevor Mallard in 2016 who announced he would not contest his regular electorate - although Mallard was open about his desire to be Speaker when he announced he would run list-only.
In July 2016, Mallard announced that he would not contest Hutt South but would run as a list-only candidate with the intention of becoming Speaker of the House. During the 2017 general election, Mallard was elected to the 52nd New Zealand Parliament on the Labour Party list.
Brownlee was the minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, Civil Defence, Defence, the Earthquake Commission, Energy and Resources, Transport and Foreign Affairs in the last National government.
He also held the role of leader of the house under that government. He was shadow leader of the house when National went into opposition, a role he was relieved of in 2020. He served as deputy leader of the opposition under Judith Collins, but resigned in November 2020.