The right needs to get behind a single candidate to take on Phil Goff in the Auckland mayoral contest, says Orakei Local Board chairwoman Desley Simpson.
She was responding to a poll showing the Labour MP has established a commanding lead with twice the combined support of three centre-right candidates - Vic Crone, John Palino and Mark Thomas.
The Mt Roskill MP and former Labour leader recorded 60.3 per cent among those who expressed a preference in a poll by Survey Sampling International, commissioned by the Spinoff in association with Jennings Murphy.
With 7 weeks to go the centre right needs to get behind ONE candidate
His closest challenger at this stage is former Xero executive Victoria Crone, on 15.5 per cent.
Crone at present has almost double the support of John Palino, who finished second to Mayor Len Brown in the last election.
The other candidate from the right, Mark Thomas, has the support of only 3.3 per cent of decided voters, the poll shows, trailing even left-wing firebrand Penny Bright, on 4.6 per cent.
"With 7 weeks to go the centre right needs to get behind ONE candidate," Simpson said in a posting on social media this morning.
Simpson is a respected figure in Auckland politics. Married to National Party president Peter Goodfellow, she has chaired the Orakei Local Board for six years and is expected to win the Orakei ward seat vacated by Cameron Brewer at October's local body elections.
Crone said the poll showed Goff was benefiting from name recognition but was encouraged by the 44 per cent of respondents saying they did not know who they would support.
"That is the market we are going after. There will be a higher turnout than last time and it will come down to who turns out on the day," said Crone, adding interest in the elections would increase now that the Olympics are over.
Asked about her chance of winning the mayoralty, Crone said: "Absolutely. I have still got a chance of winning. He(Goff) is the leading candidate but it is not sewn up."
Crone said the poll showed Thomas was not in the game and Palino had some residual support from his 2013 campaign.
"I'm just focused on our campaign, targeting the don't knows and getting my name out there," Crone said.
Thomas said online polls were notoriously unreliable, left-biased and about name awareness.
He had no intention of stepping aside for another candidate, saying: "I'm the man in the middle." The contest to challenge Goff was still alive, Thomas said.
"People have to make decisions about who the best candidates are. We are seeing the struggle different political groups are having trying to politicise these issues. I want people to focus more on the issues they think would provide the best leadership and solutions," Thomas said.
He claimed to have strong support from Simpson, who has told the Herald she supports Crone.
Palino believed the poll hit Crone the hardest because National's strong voting base in Auckland did not appear to be backing her.
"Vic can't pull people, she doesn't have it," Palino said, adding he was the candidate for the right to get behind.
"I'm the only one who has got a plan that affects the problems of Auckland," Palino said.
The leading issues selected by people in the poll were housing (50.7 per cent), public transport (33 per cent), reducing rates (29.5 per cent) and cutting bureaucracy (19.2 per cent).
People were also asked to rate Mayor Len Brown's performance - and just 2.3 per cent gave him an excellent score. A total of 41.5 per cent gave him a fairly bad or awful score, while 19.4 per cent said he had done a fairly good job and 36.7 per cent an average job.