National leadership: We rank the contenders

On Tuesday, there will be a new leader of the National Party.

There are five candidates.

We rank them according to their popularity with the public, political achievements, the baggage that haunts them, their ability to lead their own caucus and the direction they would take the party.

Amy Adams

Public appeal: Amy Adams has been likened to Theresa May - in other words, capable but a bit boring. We're waiting for an admission that she once very naughtily ran through fields of wheat. Ms Adams has been shielded from the public - a backroom workhorse who now needs to step up, show some personality and prove she's not just a pointy-headed nerd, but someone who is relatable to everyday Kiwis. 5/10

Amy Adams.
Amy Adams. Photo credit: Simon Wong/Newshub.

Political wins: Ms Adams was a very competent minister. Often handed portfolios others had destroyed, she was tasked with fixing them up. She was also given Bill English's baby to cradle during its infancy - the Social Investment Agency. Ms Adams made major policy moves in the family violence area. 9/10

Baggage: No damaging political baggage. She was seen carrying a number of World bags into Parliament, though - shopping for leadership outfits? 9/10

Leadership: Her office workers say she's a great boss, so she can lead an office. She's also held multiple ministerial portfolios - tough ones at that - so she's lead a number of ministries. She took a great lead on the David Bain compensation case with an out of court settlement to prevent the saga going on for years. But can she lead a political party? There's only one way to find out. 7/10

Political orientation: She describes herself as fiscally conservative and socially progressive - even though she's opposed to abortion law reform and decriminalising cannabis. In her leadership speech, her vision is a "New Zealand that is progressive, that is prosperous, that is compassionate, and that backs those who want to get ahead." 8/10

Simon Bridges

Public appeal: You could say Simon Bridges' working man accent endears him to the public, but it also might repel people who don't want a PM with such a twang. His combative nature - he's a former Crown prosecutor - can come across aggressively, which turns people off. But he's a family man and has the Kiwi dream and that will work in his favour: A wife, three kids (one born during the election campaign), an electric SUV and a house in the lush suburb of Matua. 7/10

Simon Bridges announces he's in the running.
Simon Bridges announces he's in the running. Photo credit: Newshub.

Political wins: Simon Bridges had an aggressive start to the Parliamentary term - leaving Labour scrambling to work out if they had the numbers to do a vote on the Speaker of the House. The move resulted in a win for National - more seats in Select Committees - but it was also a big political win - the images of frazzled Ministers that came out of the Debating Chamber did exactly what Bridges hoped - revealed incompetencies in the new Government. He was a reliable minister and didn't stuff up anything major. 8/10

Baggage: A meltdown during a 2013 Campbell Live interview is probably a memory Bridges would like to erase. Then there's the time he sprayed water on his Beehive office carpet to remove static electricity building up. Simon Bridges has a suitcase full of gaffes, but no real baggage. 9/10

Leadership: He's determined, smart and you can't deny his pitch of a "blend of generational change and experience". His Ngati Maniapoto whakapapa means there's the appeal of electing the first Maori PM... albeit one who pronounces his electorate "Towel - ronga". He's been flagged as a future party leader right from the days he appeared next to Jacinda Ardern on TVNZ's Breakfast.  8/10

Political Orientation: He calls himself a "compassionate conservative". However, he showed no compassion to the LGBTI+ community when he voted against marriage equality. And his compassion is questionable given his opposition to abortion law reform. So maybe he's just "conservative".  3/10

Judith Collins

Public appeal: Crusher Collins has the most name recognition out of all the candidates gunning for the job. She's had plenty of airtime over the past two weeks - actually, over the last nine years, dating back to 2008 when she became a minister. She's ruthless, polarising, straight-talking, and ambitious, but that might not appeal to a majority of the public. 6/10

Judith Collins during a regular appearance on The AM Show.
Judith Collins during a regular appearance on The AM Show. Photo credit: The AM Show

Political wins: She passed the law that allows the cars of boy racers to be crushed by police, hence her name 'Crusher'. She threw out a legal opinion that recommended David Bain get compensation. She banned cigarettes and lighters in prisons. She rolled out tasers to police officers. She sued Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little (and won, out of court). Strengthened bail laws so serious criminals stayed in prison for longer. 8/10

Baggage: Clear the carousel, Collins has a few bags to check in:

The first has a massive 'Oravida' logo on it. The Oravida saga went on for months, following claims she used a trip to China as Justice Minister to promote Oravida - a dairy and scampi export company of which her husband is a director. She claimed she was calling into the Oravida office on the way to the airport for a cup of tea, but it was later revealed the office wasn't en route to the airport. Details then emerged of a dinner she had with Oravida bosses and a Chinese border official during that trip. She denied she was using her role to boost Oravida's business in China. Oravida also donated tens of thousands of dollars to the National Party.

The second bag has a 'Whale Oil' sticker on it. Nicky Hager's 2014 book Dirty Politics alleged a close friendship between Collins and right-wing blogger Cameron Slater who runs Whale Oil. It claimed she was leaking classified and personal information to him that was used to undermine a number of public servants, including Serious Fraud Office Adam Feeley, of whom Collins had ministerial oversight. She was forced to resign as a minister by John Key because it was becoming a distraction to the election campaign. She was later cleared of wrongdoing in the Chisholm Report. 2/10

Leadership: She'd be a formidable leader of the party, although some have suggested she would rule by fear. She's run a law firm, a restaurant group and a handful of ministerial portfolios, so could easily run the party. 9/10

Political orientation: She's a solid conservative, with a few streaks of liberalism. She voted in favour of marriage equality, but is tough on crime - she toughened bail laws, crushed the cars of boy racers, banned smoking in prisons and banned prisoners from voting. 7/10

Steven Joyce

Public appeal: Steven Joyce is cut from the same cloth as John Key and Bill English. He could be perceived by the public as the steady hand that National needs to maintain its trademark strong and stable brand. He's a strategy man and knows how to win. But conversely, he could be seen as more of the same, old, aged leadership that lost them the election.  7/10

Steven Joyce at Waitangi.
Steven Joyce at Waitangi. Photo credit: Getty

Political wins: He's been the brains behind National's election strategy for five elections, of which he won three (and very nearly four). He was known as the 'Minister for Everything' and 'Mr Fixit' because he was handed portfolios that were causing the government grief, and he'd fix them - pretty good for an MP who became a minister as soon as he entered Parliament. 9/10

Baggage: Joyce carries with him everywhere his claim during the election campaign of an $11.7b hole in Labour's fiscals. Multiple economists concluded there was no missing money. The soundtrack following him around sounds a lot like Eminem. And he's always on the lookout for flying sex toys. 4/10

Leadership: Joyce is a proven leader in the private sector, with his pre-politics company creating radio brands everyone knows today: The Edge, More FM, The Rock, The Breeze. His leadership as a minister was of a high standard, as was his leadership of the party's election strategies. If he wins, he'd be a solid leader for National. 9/10

Political orientation: Conservative, although he did support marriage equality. He is likely to oppose euthanasia, abortion law reform and cannabis reform, though. Fiscally, he's a conservative too.  6/10

Mark Mitchell

Public appeal: There are two sides to Mitchell - the affable family man versus the soldier who once crouched on a roof in Iraq for five days shooting insurgents. He's relatively unknown but is a likable character, and if elected, he will charm the public with his warmth and grin. He's also a former cop and police dog handler. 6/10

Mark Mitchell.
Mark Mitchell. Photo credit: Newshub.

Political wins: None to speak of. Although he might have won a few games for the Parliamentary rugby team. 4/10

Baggage: He's likely killed people, probably hundreds of people, while he was a soldier for a private security firm in Iraq. He doesn't like talking about the details of that part of his life, and it'll plague him if he's leader (although it will work in his favour for some). He was linked to controversial right-wing blogger Whale Oil in the book Dirty Politics - which he denies and nearly took author Nicky Hager to court. 5/10

Mark Mitchell with his police dog in a 1996 Newshub interview.
Mark Mitchell with his police dog in a 1996 Newshub interview. Photo credit: Newshub.

Leadership: Anyone who can lead a team against 2000 insurgents and rebels in Iraq is qualified to lead the National Party. His political leadership is untested, but he was a solid Defence Minister for the 6 months he held the role. 5/10

Political orientation: Conservative. He opposed marriage equality, and has indicated he opposes abortion law reform, as well as cannabis law reform. 5/10