Campaigning starts now, voters say

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Clutha/Southland candidate Hamish Walker will have to spend the majority of his short lead-in time to the general election on the road campaigning, voters say.

Greenvale farmer Russell Falconer said being Dunedin-based meant Mr Walker would have to work hard at meeting as many people as possible, as he might not be very well known.

Mr Falconer did not know anything about Mr Walker.

“He’s really going to have to put the rubber on the road to get around and meet people,” he said.

An added pressure on the National Party and Mr Walker would be that it was always difficult for a third-term government to win a fourth election, Mr Falconer said.

There could also be a backlash against National from recent events in the Clutha/Southland electorate relating to Mr Barclay.

Although Mr Falconer thought it could be a tough election campaign for Mr Walker, he would probably win the seat.

Meanwhile, National Party delegate John Speden, of Gore, was one of 90 who voted on the names put forward for the Clutha/Southland candidacy at a meeting in Winton on Wednesday night.

Delegates had to attend at least one meeting where those seeking the seat spoke, Mr Speden said.

Mr Walker was a very good choice, he said.

“He’s a real hard worker.”

Mr Speden urged people to put the past behind them and move on.

The hunt for a new candidate for the longtime National-held seat began when incumbent MP Todd Barclay announced he would not seek re-election, after allegations he secretly recorded former staff member Glenys Dickson.

“Let’s just get on with it,” said Mr Speden, who was pleased with the turnout at the Winton meeting.

“The hall was packed,” he said.

Candidates had two questions to answer – one from Prime Minister Bill English and the other from the head of the National Party, Peter Goodfellow, Mr Speden said.

Mr Walker is a Dunedin business adviser and former Dunedin South National candidate.

“He’s no slug in politics,” Mr Speden said.

Mr Walker’s strengths were determination and the ability to listen and take on board what people were telling him, Mr Speden said.

“He’s a team player, not an ‘I’ player.”

Mr Speden said Mr Walker was going to have a busy time, as the lead-in time until the September general election was very short.

Mataura Community Board chairman and farmer Alan Taylor did not know Mr Walker personally, but said he had one big factor on his side – the seat has traditionally been a safe National stronghold.

“I think that will be a big plus for him,” Mr Taylor said.