Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Craig likely to contest East Coast Bays seat

Craig is to announce which electorate he will stand in at his campaign launch at Rangitoto College today. Photo / Wanganui Chronicle
Craig is to announce which electorate he will stand in at his campaign launch at Rangitoto College today. Photo / Wanganui Chronicle

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig is today expected to announce he will contest Murray McCully's East Coast Bays seat in the September election.

Craig has been weighing up which of three North Shore electorates he will stand for — Rodney, Upper Harbour or East Coast Bays — with his hopes for victory pinned on the National Party gifting him a seat by not putting a candidate forward.

National MP Paula Bennett has announced she will stand in Upper Harbour — her Waitakere electorate disappears under new electoral boundary changes — and Mark Mitchell launched his campaign for the Rodney seat on Friday.

That leaves open the possibility of McCully not standing in East Coast Bays and National instead backing Craig to win there.

McCully earlier this week hinted that he may roll over in the seat, telling journalists; "If you're asking me whether I'm going to consider stepping aside if I'm asked to — look, I've always said that leaders and boards of parties do make strategic decisions."

Craig is to announce which electorate he will stand in at his campaign launch at Rangitoto College this afternoon, when he will also reveal two new Conservative Party candidates.

Rangitoto College is in Mairangi Bay, part of the East Coast Bays electorate.

Political commentator Chris Trotter said East Coast Bays seemed the obvious choice for Craig.

"It would seem most likely given Mr Mitchell and Ms Bennett's fairly staunch remarks concerning their seats. And if so, that would be a perfectly logical tactical decision on National's part."

However, with Labour plummeting in the latest Fairfax Ipsos poll to just 23 per cent and National going from strength to strength, any deal between National and the Conservatives was far from certain.

"I would have thought that National would hold off for at least another six weeks or so because they will need to see if that 23 per cent is confirmed by other polls," he said.

"If Labour is confirmed to be at 25 per cent or less then they [National] don't have to do anything because the left just cannot make up a gap of that magnitude, unless Kim Dotcom and Hone's [Hone Harawira] party suddenly surges ... but I'm not really picking that."

Labour Party deputy leader David Parker said Craig would stand wherever the National Party threw him a seat.

"On the back of what the National Party did last time in respect of Epsom, we all know that the reason they oppose the abolition of the single seat lifeboat is they want to preserve it for themselves to use inappropriately as they have done in the last few elections."

McCully has until August 26 to register as a candidate in East Coast Bays.

- Herald on Sunday

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