"Anything can happen in politics."
That was National MP Nikki Kaye's response when asked on Friday if Christopher Luxon could one day lead her party instead of Simon Bridges.
The former Air NZ boss on Thursday confirmed speculation he wants a career in politics, hoping to be the National Party's candidate in the Botany electorate at next year's election. The seat is currently held by former National MP Jami-Lee Ross, who had a spectacular falling out with Bridges last year.
"He's been a significant business leader, he's a huge talent," Kaye, MP for Auckland Central, told The AM Show on Friday.
"But ultimately it's up to the party delegates... we have a democracy in our party. We'll see what happens."
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Luxon, 48, headed the national airline for six years. He's got the backing of the man who was Prime Minister for much of his tenure, Sir John Key, who called him a "world-class candidate".
"It's great that a former Prime Minister is talking very well of him," said Kaye. "I think it's very good for the National Party to have someone of his calibre, both fiscally but also he's done a lot of environmental work."
Bridges has struggled in the polls, eclipsed in the most recent taken by Newshub and Reid Research by colleague Judith Collins.
"Obviously Simon's days are numbered, clear as a bell," said Labour MP Willie Jackson, appearing on The AM Show alongside Kaye.
"Nikki won't say that, but we both know. Funnily enough I caught up with her former boss the other day - John Key - and he's a huge supporter of this bloke [Luxon]. Huge supporter."
Asked directly if Luxon might following in Sir John's footsteps, Kaye didn't rule it out.
"Ultimately anything can happen in politics - that's what I've learnt. But I think we've got a great leader in Simon Bridges, and ultimately Chris has got to get selected - I think that's what he'll be very focused on at the moment."
Jackson suggested Luxon follow the template laid down by Key - get elected first, then take the reins, rather than try to roll Simon as leader from outside Parliament.
"I'd keep [Bridges] in, see how the election goes, have a look at this bloke maybe three years down the track," Jackson explained, likely aware this would probably result in a second term in power for Labour under Jacinda Ardern.
"I think - and even our Prime Minister has acknowledged - that he crosses over," the list MP said. "I think you've got to give it to him - there is a warmth about him."