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This was John Banks' 13th campaign for public office, and his insistence early in the week that "13 is my lucky number" rang unconvincing yesterday.

Sure enough, last night he changed his tune to say: "Thirteen was always an unlucky number for me and will remain so."

So now, the ousted mayor of "old Auckland" needs a new lucky number - and a new job.

"With Len Brown they've got another Dick Hubbard," he snapped, before the results came through. "Nice man but hopeless around leadership and can't get anything done."

The last time Banks lost an election was in 2004, when muesli magnate Hubbard shoved him unceremoniously out of the mayoral chambers.

That day Banks, the stubborn and obstreperous politician, told the Herald on Sunday that he would be back.

And he was. He reclaimed the mayoralty in 2007 on a platform of "10 per cent less Banksie".

This week, he insisted that he never fought a campaign he expected to lose. He said he was "quietly confident" of victory. He claimed the Herald on Sunday poll showing Brown with a 20 percentage point lead was "BS".

He demanded the paper acknowledge its mistake when he, as inevitably would happen, roared back into the new Supercity mayoralty.

His vision of inevitability didn't happen.

Now, he has until November 1 to shut down the old Auckland City Council and clear out the Town Hall for Len Brown and his advisers to move in.

Though he claims he has no regrets, it seems certain that he must be rueing a campaign that all but ended at the start of this week, when he labelled Brown's stronghold of South Auckland a "social disaster".

"We have some serious social problems in South Auckland; civic leaders have let the people down," he says afterwards.

"I don't regret comments. I regret the fact that so many people have been left behind and I propose to bridge the gap of social deprivation. Because I know what it's like to come from nothing, absolutely nothing. Abject poverty. "

And he didn't hold back on his opinion of the new mayor. "Brown? A nice man," Banks said. "But I'm talking about stable confident leadership when it's needed most at day one on the first of November."

The election campaign was marked more by lowlights than highlights - voter fraud allegations in Papatoetoe, baby holding (Banks doesn't kiss babies), and a tearful Banks speaking in defence of his teenage son.

Alex Banks, 17, had given evidence to the coroner of encouraging 16-year-old Kings College student James Webster to drink to excess - that led to the boy's death.

Banks, a man who usually holds himself erect, seemed shrunken as his son gave evidence. And Banks' words to the court were punctuated by tears.

And now, Banks is unemployed but he shouldn't be lacking in options. He could go back into national politics (he was a National Party Cabinet minister), broadcasting (he was a talkback host) or business (restaurants and property).

But Brown, like Hubbard, will always know that Banks is looking over his shoulder, waiting for him to set a foot wrong.