After a tough year for the ACT Party and their leader and sole MP John Banks, 2014 poses some interesting challenges for the party. The year ended with Mr Banks losing a bid to avoid facing charges relating to knowingly filing a false electoral return following his failed 2010 bid for the Auckland mayoralty. With Mr Banks facing criminal charges, the ACT Party has been forced to seek out both a new leader and a candidate for Epsom.
Rumours around the leadership of the ACT Party, as well as their candidate for Epsom has been coming out quick fast. Last week, with Prime Minister John Key endorsing John Boscawen to lead ACT, and former ACT staffer David Seymour being the only confirmed candidate seeking selection for ACT in Epsom, it appeared to be a pretty safe contest for Boscawen and Seymour.
That was until some early iPredict trading on Friday morning saw a huge jump for philosophy lecturer Jamie Whyte in his bid for the ACT Party leadership. ACTLEAD.WHYTE, which had previously been trading between 26% and 72% jumped from 45% to 83% in just one day. At this stage, traders are predicting a win for Whyte as leader and Seymour as Epsom candidate, however this could all change with the ACT board due to announce a winner as early as this week.
Mr Seymour has previously said he would support Mr Whyte for his bid at the leadership, leaving Boscawen out in the cold. Despite saying no to Dancing with the Stars, Boscawen has shown his fighting side before, including when he stood in Epsom in 1996, courting 22% of the party vote and is not one to be ruled out.
Boscawen has today moved to take back control of the leadership contest, insisting that the leader of the party and Epsom candidate should be the same person. With the two other candidates, Whyte and Seymour, agreeing to Boscawen’s demands to hold public meetings, the outcome of the leadership contest could become more apparent after this Thursday.
The ACT Party are in for another tough year in 2014, and will maintain a focus on garnering support in Epsom with a new (or reheated) candidate.
iPredict contracts for the ACT Party leader and Epsom candidate can be found.