Rodney MP Mark Mitchell is focused on becoming the Leader of the Opposition, officially declaring his candidacy today.
Mr Mitchell says becoming leader of the National Party had not been on his radar but when Bill English resigned last week, colleagues approached him as a potential replacement.
The former Defence Minister has relished spending more time in his electorate since National was ousted from power in the last election. However, he says he has received overwhelming support from his electorate to contest the leadership.
He says he is backing himself and says he has as much chance of success as the others who have put themselves forward – Amy Adams, Simon Bridges and Judith Collins.
His job over the next 10 days, before a leader is chosen by the National Party, is to earn the support of as many as possible of the 56-strong caucus as possible. He says it will be “frenetic”.
If successful in his bid to become Leader of the Opposition, he says he will immediately begin campaigning for the 2020 election.
He is not seeking appointment as deputy leader. “That role is already filled and although it may become available, I am focused on the leadership,” he says. “Some people thrive in leadership roles and I put myself in that category.”