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Former PM John Key touts ex-Air NZ boss Christopher Luxon as a 'world-class candidate'

Former Prime Minister John Key is downplaying similarities between him and former Air New Zealand boss Christopher Luxon.

But Mr Key said the National Party hopeful is a “world-class candidate”.

Mr Luxon revealed to 1 NEWS yesterday he wanted to contest in the East Auckland Botany electorate for National. He is already turning heads as a potential future leader of the party.

Current party leader Simon Bridges received similar chatter when he came into politics.

Mr Key said Mr Luxon is better-known after years at Air NZ than he was when he entered politics coming from a job in the UK.

If selected by the party, Mr Luxon would go head-to-head with former National MP turned independent Jami-Lee Ross at next year's general election.

But the incumbent is doubling down on his efforts in the community. He was out door-knocking today.

“They say to me whatever happened last year was a brief blip in a 15-year career,” Mr Ross said.

But residents had other thoughts.

“I think he’s dragged the National Party down,” said one person.

“I probably myself wouldn’t vote for him again,” said another.

Of Mr Luxon, one person said “being a CEO, he obviously has some skills with negotiating”.

Former National staffer Thomas Pryor said Mr Ross “should be pretty worried”.

Mr Ross’ message to his constituents was to vote strategically - party vote National but keep him as the local MP because of his local ties.

But Mr Luxon said he also had links to the community, having gone to a local school and retaining family ties there.

Botany has had its fair share of drama over its MPs in recent years but remains a steady blue seat.

Former National MP Pansy Wong resigned in 2011 after she misused her Parliamentary travel perks. Mr Ross then won the Botany seat in a by-election.

Mr Ross first entered politics aged 18 as Manukau City councillor in 2004 before the Auckland supercity.

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The former Prime Minister did, however, say the National Party hopeful is a “world class candidate”. Source: 1 NEWS