Timing is everything in a political career and Chris Luxon's timing is perfect. He is standing for Parliament at the same point in this political cycle as Sir John Key did when National was previously out of power.
It seems strange to recall that Helen Clark's Government was in office for a full term before scarcely anybody in New Zealand heard the name John Key. He entered Parliament at the 2002 election, as did two other eventual contenders of the National Party leadership, Don Brash and Judith Collins.
That year, 2002, possibly haunts Simon Bridges. If New Zealand holds to its normal nine-year political cycle, National's next prime minister is probably not in Parliament yet.
But he or she needs to come in next year. It could be Luxon or somebody still as unknown as Key in 2002. Anyone aspiring to be in the next National Cabinet, let alone lead it, should be looking for an electorate now.
• National selects Christopher Luxon as its new candidate for Botany
• Former Air NZ boss Christopher Luxon issued rights worth nearly $2m
• Simon Bridges quick to defend Christopher Luxon on his first day as a National candidate
• Awkward conversation: Simon Bridges' charity dinner with Luxon backer
If Luxon has what it takes to be leader it will be interesting to see whether his trajectory resembles that of Key or Brash. Key had to bide his time when National, after its 2002 election defeat, turned first to Brash.
Immediately after his selection for Botany this week, Luxon appeared more like Brash. Like the former Reserve Bank governor, Luxon already has a public profile from running Air New Zealand. And he is an evangelical Christian with conservative social views. Brash was not evangelical but he was very conservative, it turned out, on the bicultural project.
When a party suffers the kind of defeat National endured at the end of the previous Labour-led Government's first term, it looks for a leader who can rebuild its base rather than one who can broaden its appeal. Hence Brash, not Key, got the nod when Bill English stepped down in 2003.
History has not been kind to leaders of the Opposition who have been ministers or briefly prime ministers in the previous Government. Think Phil Goff, Mike Moore, Jim McLay. Bill Rowling, Jack Marshall… Good men, bad timing.
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They had the misfortune to take over when public interest was naturally focused on a fresh Government. That advantage usually ensures the Government will be re-elected.
But if Simon Bridges is haunted by history he can find comfort in the fact that for the first time in our modern politics the Opposition is not a defeated party. It was the highest polling party at the last election and remains so in most opinion polls.
Its support is still as high as it was when Key, English and Steven Joyce were in power. Though Bridges seems unable to get his personal ratings out of the basement, he is doing no harm to National's standing with voters.
The only thing preventing its return to Government next year will probably be Winston Peters whose animus to National continues to be on display.
If Peters survives the next election, Bridges' leadership probably will not. The big risk for Bridges is that if the Government looks likely to be returned, many of National's usual voters might decide instead to bolster NZ First in the coalition. That is what happened in 2002.
If history repeats and National has to rebuild its base again, it might turn to Judith Collins. Luxon might have to wait.
He will have no illusions that the skills that took him to the heights of business are the same as those he will need in public life. After Air NZ board meetings he and Key will have talked about this - about the sensitivity of everything you say, the distraction of trivialities, the intrusions on privacy and family and much else.
I'm sure they have also discussed how government is not simply business on a larger scale. It's quite different. Good government requires awareness that it's too easy to spend public money. It's not like raising private capital, you don't have to convince investors to risk their own money to indulge your ideas.
Nobody loses personally if your pet project costs more than it proves to be worth, people just lose collectively. The economy is a little less robust.
Business leaders come into politics experienced and confident in company and personal investment. They can make bigger mistakes with public money than politicians without a business background.
Key came in believing he could make a "step change" in the economy by "leveraging" off the country's low Government debt. After he navigated the global crisis and earthquakes, he developed a higher regard for Treasury restraints.
When a corporate leader gives up a $4.2 million salary to enter the bear pit of politics he must be dedicated. I hope Luxon takes time to learn the craft, avoids the pitfalls, contributes to the country's economic wellbeing and enjoys the ride.