Defeated, again. Emotional, again. But after losing a second Auckland mayoral race, John Banks hinted at yet another comeback.

Less than two hours after learning he would have to vacate the mayoral office, a teary and deflated-looking Banks told members of the right-wing Citizens and Ratepayers party that he was down, but not out.

"There's always the next campaign," he said, before joking that the promise had caused his wife Amanda to collapse on the floor.

Last night, he told the Herald on Sunday that his immediate priorities were his businesses - he expected to make announcements soon - and his family.

Len Brown had offered him no position in the Supercity, but he would never rule out a return to politics in one forum or another. "I spent a long time in Parliament - I've been in public office 33 years - and I'm always available and open to discussion.

"But I've just lost an important election and I need time to reflect on my future."

It was a bad end to a terrible week for Banks and his family. On Thursday Banks broke down in tears while giving a personal statement at the inquest for alcohol-poisoning victim James Webster, whose drinking had been encouraged by Banks' 17-year-old son Alex.

"Thursday in the Coroner's Court was the most difficult day in my entire life - it was the tragic loss of a very good young boy," Banks said.

"It was traumatic.

"Losing elections, for me, are not difficult to handle. Losing a son would be unimaginable."

But Banks said his family had become stronger over the past seven days. "It has been an extraordinarily hard week for the family. But in the end, when all the politics are over, all you've got is your family, your faith and your health."

At the press conference Banks, who remained composed despite a few tears, pledged his support for mayor-elect Len Brown.

"I want to congratulate him for his superb campaign, his perseverance, his tenacity and his commitment."

He called Brown as soon as he heard the result to give him "unconditional" support, saying there was more that united the two than divided them.

"This was always going to be tough ... He ran a very good campaign and mobilised his voters like never before. The people have spoken, and I respect the decision of the voters."

But behind the scenes of the Banks campaign, there was frustration. One insider suggested the Auckland mayor had remained relentlessly, almost blindly, upbeat for the past two weeks, even when everyone in his campaign team knew the election was lost.

It is said that to lose something once is unfortunate; to lose twice is plain careless.

Banks had fought an old-fashioned Auckland city campaign, spending almost all of his campaign chest on hoardings in the old Auckland city - not out West, not on the North Shore, and most critically, not down south. It was there that Brown's team got out the voters in unprecedented numbers, early in the polling period.

Banks' television advertising campaign only began in the final week - and by then, all was already lost.

Brown and Banks are believed to have spent nearly $1 million apiece on the campaign, most from a few bigger donors, but Brown's money was better targeted.

Banks said he was "very happy" with his campaign and did not believe he had left his run too late. "I never drive looking in the rear vision mirror. I don't look back. "

Speaking to about 200 supporters at the Eden Rugby Club, he said: "It wasn't meant to be. It's been a long, torturous road, 18 months of hard work and a lot of effort."

He added: "I was beaten fair and square."


John Banks' fans were disappointed with the result.

Ram Rai said he was the best man for the job. "But the people have spoken. I'd like to see him run again."

Kit Parkinson said: "I really would have preferred to have John as our leader. If I really have to give someone my rates money, I think John would have spent it more wisely than Len will."

Alfred Ngaro, a defeated Citizens & Ratepayers candidate, said: "Len is an all-inclusive mayor, which will have its strengths. But you can't be all things to all people - you need to be able to make some tough decisions."