National slow getting Epsom act together

Last updated 05:00 17/04/2011

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The National Party remains undecided about who it will stand in Epsom against Act MP Rodney Hide but Trade Minister Tim Groser is understood to be on the short-list.

Party members have made it clear to Prime Minister John Key that they want a strong contender to vote for.

National's northern region chairman, Alan Towers, would say only that no candidate has been selected, but Groser was more forthcoming.

"I'm aware of the rumour, it's been around for some time now but until I'm advised otherwise, that's exactly what it is, a rumour."

It is understood National's Epsom branch chairman, Aaron Bhatnagar, is also being considered.

The indecision could be based partly on Labour's poor poll showing of late. Recent results indicate National could govern without a coalition partner after the November 26 election, but the party is aware of the frustration of supporters who want to vote for their own candidate against Hide.

Earlier this year voters and Key met in the electorate, as supporters sought assurances they would be able to select their own candidate.

A Horizon Poll conducted for the Sunday Star-Times, and published in January, showed New Zealanders oppose National standing aside in Epsom to help its potential coalition partner into parliament.

National delegates gather next month at their Auckland region conference to rank their list candidates, and party officials will be under pressure to have decided on a candidate by then.

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