How would you like another serving of John Palino?
Last year's defeated Auckland mayoral candidate is not ruling out another tilt at the mayoral chains.
"I'm keeping that open," the restaurateur told the Herald on Sunday yesterday. "I get people often, pretty much every day, saying: 'I hope you run again'."
Palino, speaking at length for the first time since the election, said the decision would be made in about 18 months. "Depending on where I'm at, what I'm doing with my partner, my family and — hopefully — having children."
In comments likely to frustrate his critics, Palino reiterated he'd had no advance or detailed knowledge of mayor Len Brown's affair with Bevan Chuang, a liaison that sparked the country's biggest sex scandal in years.
The former host of TV reality show The Kitchen Job is returning to a busy time after six months of keeping a low profile.
He is preparing to marry Rose Li in China in a few months.
Palino said he'd made an offer on a commercial building in Glendowie, East Auckland, and is scouting for other restaurant locations, ideally in Auckland's eastern or western suburbs. This weekend, he was in Wellington for consultancy work with a Thai restaurant.
Asked about any regrets about the 2013 campaign, Palino said rogue elements — Brown sympathisers — in his campaign team undermined him. He declined to name them.
Political scientist Dr Bryce Edwards said it was extremely naive for Palino to think he'd land support from right-wing elements again, after questions over tactics used to out Brown's affair.
"There was definitely skulduggery involved. Whether it involved Palino or not is, I think, the question that will continue to dog him because he hasn't really put his cards on the table and dealt with it."
Former National Party president Michelle Boag said Palino had a few party members working with him last year, but not broad-based support. She said right-wing Aucklanders would seek new contenders in 2016.
"I've already heard a lot of people talking about the need to have a really strong candidate next time round," Boag said. "If you had a senior business figure like Sir Ralph Norris, he'd be elected in a heartbeat. But I've asked him and he said no."
TV host Paul Henry and Labour MP Phil Goff haven't ruled out 2016 mayoral campaigns.
Meanwhile, Palino was keenly following debates this week on Auckland's draft alcohol policy, which would limit liquor availability and opening hours. Palino said getting drunks off the streets must be balanced with letting responsible diners have a late-night drink.