Thanks to Maurice Williamson, this previously unheralded MP finds herself Associate Minister of Conservation and Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, finally getting her some traction. Best known for beating Brendan Burns (which would make a great film title) by 47 votes and breaking one of Labour’s fortress electorates. Only Paula Bennett’s legendary margin of nine was smaller.
Often mistaken for cricketer Neil Wagner, due to her name and position as a supporting player, she declared Christchurch Central unwinnable this year after boundary changes. But she’ll contest it anyway since Labour’s selection committee has tossed up the untried Tony Milne (fact: not actually 14 years old). If Wagner holds on, she can safely sell the film rights to an epic political heist.
Jerome Mika (Labour, Papakura)
2011 saw J‑Mika crushed by ‘Ol’ Steel Eyebrows’ (9,890 votes — ouch), but 2014 has revealed that Collins’ Kryponite is only lactose. Jermizzle Mikizzle throws out street talk like ‘The Bash’ but can match ‘Thatchizzle-litizzle’ in oratory and will win Twitter debates by default. Still, can he out-strategizzle her?
Labour’s hit the ground running on grassroots campaigning, which is way better than their usual tactic of just hitting the ground. Collins is in a slump and a 10,000-vote swing is something that usually involves Kevin Costner and a baseball, but 2014 has already had its fair share of crazy, and if ‘Basher’ can take ‘Crusher’ it will be one of the great fight-backs.
James Shaw (Greens, Wellington Central)
James Shaw is the little MP that could. He came third behind Grant Robertson and Paul Foster-Bell in 2011, although rumour has it that most of Foster-Bell’s numbers were due to being mistaken for Robertson. His party promoted him into their top ten, meaning he’ll no doubt be made fun of by National MPs if current polling holds.
It could be that the Greens are trying to cement their own Wellington fortress, especially on the back of LBE (that’s the local body electorate to those of us who don’t eat this stuff for breakfast, lunch and dinner — Ed.) results. Or it could be that they’re trying to cut their MPs’ travel costs. Most likely it’s a bit of both as Shaw offers support on sustainable economics for Russell Norman (who loves third place), which the Greens will push hard in a coalition government. He could steal votes if he gains glasses and loses the cheekbones.
Asenati Lole-Taylor (NZ First)
Asenati Lole-Taylor (or ALT, as she’s known in the music biz) may just be the craziest MP of Winston’s Crazy 8, but there’s no denying her passion, flair for outrageous statements, and the growing support that Peters is finding in the Pacific community. They see him as keeping other politicians in check, which is as ironic as it is tragic.
It’s an understatement that Pasifika, more than at any other time, are key voters this year; and Lole-Taylor is an MP who knows how to get attention. She won’t win the fight, but could deliver enough energy to Winstimus Prime for an entertaining second term.