Labour candidate Willow-Jean Prime has rejected suggestions she stand aside in the upcoming Northland byelection to give NZ First leader Winston Peters a clear run at the seat.
Mr Peters emerged as the front runner for the seat in a TV3/Reid Research poll released on Thursday that had him on 35 per cent support, ahead of new National candidate Mark Osborne on 30 per cent. Mrs Prime trailed on 16 per cent while 11 per cent did not know who to vote for and 8 per cent said they would not vote. The poll of 500 people had a margin of error plus or minus 4.4 per cent.
Mangawhai rates campaigner Bruce Rogan, who is standing as an independent, is urging Labour to withdraw from the race to boost Mr Peters' chances of winning.
Mr Rogan said Labour had no chance of taking out the safe National seat but Mr Peters, with his high profile and Northland roots, could win it.
If National were to lose the seat it would struggle to pass some of its more contentious legislation, such as its proposed Resource Management Act reforms, because National plus Act's one MP would no longer form a majority.
Mrs Prime, however, emphatically rejected the idea of doing a deal with NZ First. She remained dedicated to winning the byelection and would "fight hard to relieve the years of neglect by National".
"My nomination is lodged, my campaign has started, and I'm working hard on the ground to win people's votes. I am not standing down."
Mrs Prime said National had long taken the North for granted, leaving the region with high unemployment, struggling businesses and roads in a mess.
Instead of turning that around the National Government had instead cut $35 million from Northland's road funding in the past six years.
The byelection was a chance to send the Government a message, she said.
Meanwhile, Mr Peters was on the campaign trail in Wellsford and Kaiwaka during the week. The byelection, which is expected to cost taxpayers close to $1 million, was forced by the sudden resignation of National MP Mike Sabin for "personal reasons".