RIGHT OF REPLY
Ten days out from the election, polls show that I'm the frontrunner for Auckland Central.
Despite that, Herald columnist Simon Wilson finds 11 spurious reasons as to why I should somehow gift the electorate to the Green candidate currently polling in third behind me and National's candidate.
Wilson's preferences for the Greens – "We need the Green MPs", he writes – is obvious and long-standing.
Perhaps that's why he blindly assumes that Labour voters in Auckland Central would meekly follow orders from me to vote for Chloe Swarbrick. I have a lot of respect for her, but this is not something I have the power to bestow.
His claim that the polling trends are bad for me are, firstly, plain wrong. Secondly, it betrays his own ignorance.
There have been two polls. In the most recent, I lead by 5 points (with undecideds left in) and the earlier poll I led by 12 points (with undecideds taken out). These are very encouraging for me. Anyone familiar with polling – and Wilson's standing as a political commentator suggests he should be – would not compare the two, other than noting I lead in both.
Auckland Central has been a National seat since 2008. Boundary changes in recent years have made it less the Labour-Green-progressive stronghold it once was and instead a fair dinkum marginal seat, evenly split between Labour and National.
In 2017, National secured 39 per cent of the party vote to Labour's 38 per cent. The Greens did well – but they were well back on 14 per cent.
I'm putting myself forward because I think my background and experience gives me the tools to represent the electorate well.
I am a lawyer. I am an Aucklander. I grew up in Freemans Bay. But ultimately the decision on who is best is for the voters to decide. I will be doing everything I can to help them decide in my favour.
When I ran three years ago, I pushed Nikki Kaye right to the line and I've worked very hard in the interim period to build on the 11,600 votes I achieved last time.
But I have to keep working right up until October 17. I am confident that we are running a very strong campaign - but in no way am I complacent.
Jacinda Ardern and the Labour Party are very keen for this seat to come back to Labour, and that is the message which is being sent to supporters.
We are also picking up support from previous centrist voters who supported Nikki Kaye but like what Labour and Jacinda Ardern and the team have done.
And that deal with Greens? That's not something that I would decide – that's for party leaders, and Jacinda's position is clear: no deal.
Unlike Wilson, I think the Greens do not need any deal – they will get back in.
And Auckland Central will benefit from having me advocating for it in Labour's caucus.