The ODT’s Dene Mackenzie is taking the pulse of New Zealand and has found Ron Mark making his mark in Rimutaka.
Ron Mark has a novel approach to campaigning in the Rimutaka electorate he is contesting in this election. As a leading spokesman for the party on law and order, he is required to visit electorates around the country, campaigning hard for the party vote.
In Rimutaka, he stands up at meet-the-candidate nights and tells people he wants to be their MP.
If people tell him they are supporters of other parties, he accepts that but asks bluntly for their electorate vote.
“A vote for me will not be wasted,” he said in an interview.
“National and Labour are getting up asking for the party vote. Not me. I want to be the MP for Rimutaka.”
If Mr Mark does win the seat, something that would have seemed improbable this time last year, it changes the face of the NZ First campaign. Then, even if NZ First polls only 3%, as recent opinion polls have been indicating, it means that leader Winston Peters will return to Parliament thanks to Mr Mark.
It’s the party vote that counts and that message is drummed in to candidates, but a party that’s hardly approached 5% in the polls for three years could get in to parliament if it won a seat.
Mark’s chances of doing that would be helped if Labour nobbled its candidate, but they wouldn’t be that desperate would they?