Bridges’ electorate responds to Nats turmoil

By Talisa Kupenga

National's Simon Bridges' leadership could be in question amidst the turmoil caused by outgoing MP Jami-Lee Ross. 

Ross laid a complaint with police on Wednesday afternoon, supplying them with a recording in an attempt to back his claim that Bridges committed electoral fraud.  Bridges disputes the allegations.

While the police are yet to respond to Ross' claims, the political rumble has rattled the confidence of voters in Bridges’ Tauranga electorate.

One local says "he’s no good for Tauranga” while another says he’s a “jumped-up little snarler who’s got himself into a hole he can’t get out of [who’s] made things bad for everybody”.

While the National caucus says it backs Bridges, questions were being raised for how long and whether Bridges could hold onto his leadership and overcome the scathing attack.

Political commentator Roihana Nuri says, "That's why everyone has their eyes on National, to see what comes of this fight and whether he rises above the turmoil.  Winston Peters says Bridges won't make it to the next election, and I think Winston is right."

National’s deputy leader Paula Bennett says, “We're bigger than that, we're stronger and I know we will actually get through this as a party and as a caucus."

In 2008, Bridges campaigned against Winston Peters, securing the Tauranga seat with an 11,000 vote majority.  Whether or not Peters seeks revenge in the Botany by-election remains to be seen.

Peters says his party would discuss whether to contest Botany “as soon as possible".