Editorial: Nothing to lose in New Zealand First run for Murray Chong
Who'd take a wager against Murray Chong throwing his name into the ring and standing for New Zealand First in New Plymouth in the national elections coming up this year?
The speculation is Chong will take on the role when the party's newly established New Plymouth Electorate Committee meets next week.
And his latest foray into what is now, for him, the well-travelled territory of the controversial Facebook post, does nothing to dispel those rumours, with its doff of the hat to Winston Peters and his party.
Ending with "NZ First all the way I say", Chong attracted six official complaints to the mayor for criticising calls for separate Maori prisons and labelling the National and Labour parties "Natori" and "Labori".
* Complaint laid against Murray Chong after another race related post
* Mayor condemns councillor's Facebook post about Maori language
* Murray Chong causes upset with offensive Facebook post
* New Plymouth district councillor Murray Chong asked to apologise for Facebook comments
It'd be a smart move by someone proving to actually be a fairly savvy, if not universally popular, politician.
Virtually certain to not actually win the election, there would be little danger of having to give up his seat around the New Plymouth District Council table. And in an election where immigration is shaping as a key issue, he'll have plenty of opportunity to share his views, garnering publicity in the process - with few, if any, of his NPDC rivals to share the spotlight.
Due to the sad reality that local body elections are more or less a name recognition poll, it should almost be enough, (plus the inevitable stir up or two in the intervening years, of course) to see him back on the NPDC for another term in 2019.
There's no question Chong gains as much he loses when his "indiscretions" on social media are brought to light. You only need to look at the reaction to the latest incident to see that for every one who thinks Chong is racist and reckless there's someone else who thinks he's a common sense straight shooter.
A run for New Zealand First with nothing to lose in New Plymouth would surely shore up his support base there - and let's not forget he was already the sixth highest polling councillor in the last election.
Anyone who really wanted to strangle the life out of Chong's political career would be better to let him post in peace. That way his comments would be restricted more or less to the comparatively small circle of friends he already has on social media rather than spread out into the wider public arena.
Every official complaint lodged against him only serves to add fuel to the fire and if there's one thing Chong has shown during his tenure in public office, it's an ability to handle the heat.
At least this time round we've been spared an insincere sounding apology for his sins. And maybe that's what Mayor Neil Holdom had in mind when he decided to let the complaints against Chong slide this time.