19 July 2013

Auckland mayoral race: A dry run for 2014?

Punters are placing odds on Len Brown to win the Auckland mayoralty as if it were a done deal. In 2010, Len Brown won just short of 49% of votes for mayor, and John Banks 35.7%. The new and untested right-wing candidate this time round, John Palino, could do well from conservative voters in leafy suburbs who are outraged by the draft unitary plan's emphasis on higher density and taller structures. Len Brown, on the other hand, faces a possible drop in support from his South Auckland base, due to competition from the Rev Uesifili Unasa and, on the left, John Minto, and also if poorer voters refuse to vote, given that nothing much has improved for them in the last 3 years.
While John Minto will undoubtedly be an also-ran for the mayoralty, the election gives him and the Mana Movement a chance to test support and raise their profile among lower-income urban neighbourhoods, something they have to do if they are to have any chance of more than one seat in the House after the 2014 general election.
For quite different reasons, I wonder if John Palino's candidacy isn't also a test-run, to see if conservative voters are not bothered by his American origins and to profile him as a future prospect for parliament.


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