Labour MP Phil Twyford has been given a big vote of confidence after being handed the role of managing his party's election campaign.
The party's executive confirmed today that the Te Atatu MP and shadow housing minister would take on the role of campaign chairman.
The appointment means he will play a key role in developing Labour's strategy for unseating National from Government next year.
The new job also underlines how far he has risen in Labour's ranks.
The MP once struggled get a winnable seat in the party, leading to the tagline "Seatless in the Super City" after he was overlooked for three Auckland seats in a year.
It was not until former Te Atatu MP Chris Carter resigned in disgrace that Twyford was able to secure a seat.
He is now ranked fourth in the party, holds the key housing portfolio, and is playing an increasing role in the party's governance.
Labour insiders said the choice for campaign chair was easy because Twyford was the party's best campaigner.
He had significant experience in on-the-ground campaigning, he was a senior MP and held some authority within his caucus, and he had performed strongly in Parliament, especially in the housing portfolio.
"I love campaigning," Twyford said this afternoon. "I've really been a campaigner for my entire adult life, working for unions and NGOs on various issues and all through my Oxfam years it was my campaigning work that I loved the best."
Twyford will also chair Labour's campaign in a likely Mt Roskill by-election, which will be triggered if local MP Phil Goff wins the Auckland Mayoralty.
The Labour MP could face a battle in his own Te Atatu electorate from National candidate Alfred Ngaro.
"I take my local opponent seriously," Twyford said of Ngaro. "I rate him."
Twyford's majority of 5400 votes in 2011 was cut to 2800 in 2014, though that could partly be the result of boundary changes which altered the demographic makeup of the electorate.
There are also rumours of an anti-Twyford leaflet drop backed by foreign property speculators who are upset with his strong stance on offshore buyers. Twyford played a key role in releasing data on property sales to people with Chinese-sounding surnames last year.
The Labour MP said he had no concerns about a possible smear campaign.
"I think it would help, actually," Twyford said.
Labour general secretary Andrew Kirton has been appointed campaign manager.
Kirton has only been with the party since April but has impressed in that time.
A former adviser to Helen Clark, he worked in corporate public relations in London before becoming Labour's general secretary.
Labour Party president Nigel Haworth said the two men possessed the skills to run a strong campaign.
"We're focussed on electing a forward looking Labour government led by Andrew Little in 2017 which works to create a better future for all Kiwis, from Southland to Northland, East Coast to West," he said.