Losing the unlosable election?

Simon Lusk and Cameron Slater are launching a book on the recent Auckland local body election. It has a curious title, considering Lusk was managing the campaign of one of the mayoral contenders.

Losing the Unlosable Election – How the Right Lost Auckland Again

unlosableelection

Yes the centre-right to right was fragmented and did poorly in Auckland. Again.

In 2011 John Palino was an odd contender for the mayoralty. He was the best of the rest but came a distant second to Len Brown.

Then just after the election there was an attempt to discredit Brown and have him dumped – the discrediting worked but Brown remained to see out his term. Palino was seen as linked to the virtual coup attempt even though I don’t think he could have stepped up if Brown had stepped down. Both Brown and Palino came out of it severely tainted.

So it was odd to see Palino stand again with Lush as his campaign manager. Slater tried to talk up a consolidation of the right wing candidates – which appears to have favoured Thomas and Crone stepping aside to give Palino a better chance against Phil Goff.

Palino never stood a chance, even if it was just him versus Goff. So Lush helped split and fragment the centre-right. And now he seems to be complaining about it.

The Auckland mayoralty was pretty much an unlosable election – for Phil Goff. As soon as he announced he was standing the media installed him as front runner and that’s how they played out the whole campaign, never seriously reporting a contest.

The media ended up giving a bit of consolation coverage to Chlöe Swarbrick, probably to try and inject some interest into a contest they had decided months previously.

There has been a lack of serious centre-right or right candidates in Auckland for some time. John Banks (versus Len Brown) in 2010 was hardly a great new talent, and Palino never looked like getting close in 2013.

This time the mayoralty was virtually unlosable for Goff as soon as he stepped forward.

And it was unwinnable for Palino, even if Lusk has persuaded the centre and right to back him exclusively. He was never going to be seen as a Trump.

To win mayoralties, especially in major cities, you need a credible candidate with good name recognition and a strong campaign team.

The Lusk formula might succeed in knocking a few contenders down, but it’s always going to struggle to get a top candidate and widespread support, even from the right.

But if you want his advise on how to not win an election – New book being launched Nov 7, pre-order now.