It's a strange feeling putting the final touches to two speeches, knowing that only one of them will be read. It's even stranger that after 10 months of campaigning, we're sitting around the Mayor's office waiting to hear the crow of a rooster. John Banks is seated in his chair, his family is there, plus a handful of his closest advisers.

The feeling is surreal and one of being powerless - it's like that moment when you knock a glass of red wine off a table and you watch it fall on to the carpet. You know the outcome and can see it happening but there's nothing you can do about it.

Then it comes, the call of the rooster that is about to end the Supercity dream for Banks and supporters. Yep, Banks' ringtone is a rooster and the phone call is the election result.

The veteran politician reaches for his BlackBerry; the room goes quiet. He smiles, says a few words - and with that the campaign for Team Banksie is over. But, ever the showman, Banks jumps to his feet, strides out to his supporters and delivers a speech.

"We might have lost this election, but I've made a lot of friends."

He's softer than normal, very personable and obviously emotional. Bugger - if only the voters saw more of this side, maybe we would be using the other speech. The message is simple, though: Nice try team, but we didn't get there.

My story starts in January. I'm on holiday in Rarotonga and I get a call from Banks; he says the team is looking forward to meeting me. My old man laughs. He still can't quite understand why I've left a senior role in Parliament's press gallery to work for "Banksie". But, after covering two general elections with 3News, it's now my chance to see things from the inside. I check the Herald website - a recent poll has Len Brown leading Banks by 13 points. Still, lots of time left.

Day one. Just met Banks for lunch. Quick visit now to his business office - it has a nice view overlooking the Viaduct and we bump into his colleague Don - yep, Brash. (I've interviewed him several times before but he doesn't remember me. That's not so bad though-I wasn't ever that complimentary). It all seems pretty easy so far; I could get used to this. We head back to the Town Hall and stop at Banks' cat colony to check they're okay (didn't know this about him - make sure to tell the old man Banks is a softy for animals).

It's now 3pm and the traffic lights have gone out across Auckland. A fire down country has cut the region's power. Business stops, traffic's a mess and the economic powerhouse has stalled. We're meant to be going to a launch party at Kelly Tarlton's but Banks sniffs an opportunity and for the first time I get to see how this politician works his magic.

"The launch can wait Scotty, John Campbell's live on the end of this camera." We're standing on the water's edge and I'm holding Banks' microphone (thought I'd left TV). I only hear one side of the story and it sounds bad - especially for that chap Patrick Strange, the Transpower chief executive. Banks tells Campbell that Strange is paid almost a million dollars a year (hope that's right - must check) and has worked for the power company for nine years (must check also).

We cross the road, and Banks turns to me: "All right Scotty?" Hmm, I hesitate before answering - this is my first day after all. "Yep, as long as those figures were right," I say. (They weren't. While Strange is paid $940,000 he's only been at Transpower for three years. Note to self: Keep an eye on figures.)

The weeks come and go and Banks often walks into the unknown. He delivers his first Maori greeting on Waitangi Day at Ngati Whatua's Okahu Bay celebrations and does very well-even the locals are impressed.

Banks visits the Big Gay Out and gets on stage, though there's no karaoke with the queens-it seems getting votes has some limits. But the former talkback radio host, the bullish MP I've heard so much about-well, I haven't seen him yet. I begin to wonder, does he even exist?

"Scotty, we need more photos for Facebook - I want to make sure we're seen." I appear to have unleashed a beast - maybe it wasn't such a good idea to use Facebook and Obama in the same sentence. Despite having never seen the social media site, Banks jumps on board and doesn't look back. Every meeting, every walkabout now becomes a photo op. Things are going well but still no change in the polls.

"Brown caught in credit card scandal." That headline sure makes for good reading. It's emerged the Manukau Mayor has shopped and eaten courtesy of the ratepayer. We're back in the game. I text Banks and urge him to stay clear, don't get in front of the snowball. He bites his tongue - a hard job, I know, for the former member from Whangarei but he does well.

Len Brown battles for the next two days and new spending claims pop up. Ham, kids' toys, a stereo and an $810 dinner. We remain silent and away from the cameras. Brown's camp says it's a dirty tricks campaign, the media buy that and somehow it's our fault he swiped the card.

Brown cuts up his credit card on Campbell Live and it appears the pressure is getting to him-still we stay away from the issue, instead focusing on alcohol, a subject close to Banks' heart. Team Banksie feels buoyed.

There's some good momentum now ... surely it won't be long until we get positive results in the polls? It's not. Our internal polling is already starting to show a change.

Banks heads to Australia this weekend for a few days out - good, as the media are hounding him for comment. He remains silent.

TV3's Nightline leads its bulletin tonight with Brown's emotional speech. Even I cringe as he begins to slap his chest and face. For the first time he's been put under intense pressure and scrutiny and he's shaky-poor guy. Ten days on the back foot will do that to you.

We're definitely back in this race now. Time for us to show real leadership. Len and the media still pedal the dirty tricks line (how wrong they are).

JUNE 20, 3AM
We're walking K' Rd. Nothing dodgy, Banks and I are out with the police. "Geez it's not pretty, eh Scotty?" He's right, there's a guy urinating on a wall, another lying on the ground and two chaps are shaping up to fight, but they end up cuddling.

We enter Bacio bar, thankfully accompanied by the cops - not quite sure how early morning revellers will welcome their Mayor. But just inside the nightclub Banks is whisked into a corner by four young (drunk) women. They want a photo. Yep, Facebook is calling. He motions to me to take a picture; I tell him it's too dark. As Banks leaves one of the girls says, "Oh my God that was John Key"-hmm, close.

We drive around the inner city for the next hour, it's 4.30 now-sleep? It's quiet though, the rain has kept people away. The police boss tells us the real problem is cheap booze and too many cut-price outlets. (Note: Must develop policy on Monday.)

"Keep up with NewstalkZB at seven, I'm Kate Hawkesby with the news. Supercity mayoral candidate John Banks wants to bring the Olympics to Auckland." What the...?

This must be a dream. Maybe I'll try to drift back off to sleep ... the phone rings. It's the first of many calls from reporters today. I send Banksie a text: "Don't say anything more about the Olympics." Then I hear him with Hosking - bugger. "It's a light hands look at a 20/20 vision." Slogan sounds pretty good ... pity it is never going to happen! (Must shut down ASAP, thankfully police chief Howard Broad has just quit.)

We've jumped the Olympic hurdle for most of the day. Polls are still good. Tonight we're off to a swanky hotel for an evening with two Johns - Banks and Key (shh, don't tell anyone though, it's not an endorsement).

This roller coaster of campaigning is really quite tiring. Going from meeting to meeting, delivering the same message sometimes five to seven times a day. That's a lot of smiles, a lot of shaking hands, a lot of tea and asparagus rolls. All the while those damn polls keep going up and down, some good, some bad. If only the saying "there's only one poll" was actually true, that'd make things a lot easier. It's actually quite difficult at times to put a brave face on being behind (Note: Stop chipping at Phil Goff's PR guys-I know how they feel now.)

My fiancée Angela and I are off to Sydney. Finally, some time out to relax. We're in the Koru lounge and I pick up the Herald-big mistake. The headline reads: "Banks says it with $11,500 of flowers." Bugger, there goes the high ground on the expenses. What next? There's the boarding call. Phone off. Let's go and see what a real Supercity looks like. At least the polls are starting to close.

Things are running smoothly but today we're hit by a bus, or at least a bus lane. About $4.2 million worth of fines dished out in the past year by Banks' council, to be exact. There's a public outcry. I urge Banks to put the brakes on and back up the bus, but to his public transport credit he doesn't. "They're working Scotty, most people stay out of them." I tell Banks we got a ticket not long ago and it's a silly policy. I still have to pay for the ticket.

We're in Pakuranga for another local speech -The 60 Up Club. More food, more talk. With a smile and wave we leave. Banks suggests we head to Otara's Bairds Rd. It has five liquor stores within a few kilometres. We find a shop with steel roller doors in the middle of a residential area. "Stop the car," Banks says. "Let's get a photo for Facebook."(Hmm, hope the neighbours don't mind).

Banks stands in the middle of the street and strikes a pose-it's a serious matter, so it's a serious face. I click away on the camera as something passes my head and hits the car. It's a lemon -not the car, the thing that almost hit me. Then another and another. Banks shrugs his shoulders and asks: "Got the photo?" We leave with no direct hits. I thought this campaigning was meant to be glamorous.

Banks heads to Wellington to cook on TV One's Good Morning. I ask what's on the menu. He grins and says, "bread and butter pudding-it's a good cheap meal". When he says he's tight with the purse strings, Banks isn't joking. But he loves pork meals, teriyaki chicken and curry, and every time we enter a food court he pulls out the card - his own - and pays for our lunch. He's actually a really nice guy.

"Banks, Brown, neck and neck in poll" - NZ Herald

Finally! I get an early morning text from the boss; he's very chipper. The momentum is ours again. This weekend the voting papers go out and after 10 months of working to show voters "John Banks, the person"' we're back, right back in this.

Tonight it's the mayoral hopefuls in the Herald debate. It's a bit messy, Paul Holmes is the chair - but it seems Holmes has forgotten he's not running for Mayor. Banks does well, he's on message. It's a pity that chap Colin Craig is there though - despite not being a politician he shines. (Note: This might prove a problem.)

We head to Hampton Downs for a few hot laps with Greg Murphy, an old friend, I'm told. Banks gets two laps with The Murph but he offers one to me, saying: "You'll never do this again, Scotty." It's a nice gesture. The Murph takes us for a ride and this time Mayor Banks gets a photo of me for my Facebook page. Maybe there are perks to this job after all!

South Auckland is humming, its votes are coming in fast. That's not what anyone expected - except for Brown and Co. It's the school holidays however and the private parents will be back next week - Team Banksie believes it can count on their votes, surely.

Banks, well, he's still chipper, out every day stopping busy (late) professionals as they catch their morning buses. "Make sure to vote. Oh, and vote for me," he tells them with a grin.

Tonight Banks and Brown battle one last time - television's Close Up with Mark Sainsbury. The polls aren't looking flash. Banks needs "his voters" - Auckland City and the Shore - to start posting their ballots. Time for a last ditch call to arms? In his final comment Banks lets loose-he has little support in the South so no harm in calling it a social disaster. Does it work? Not sure, but we're up against it. Why not?

It's the last weekend before the result. We've had no advertising on TV and Len's beating us up. The momentum is his. South Auckland is getting out in record numbers. Banks decides it's time to make a TV ad (hmm, it's a bit late). We do it in a few hours and hope for the best. The North Shore and the eastern suburbs are starting to vote - they must be back from the bach? Things aren't looking good but we smile and battle on.

Banks mentions I should start preparing a couple of speeches. It's a strange feeling thinking of what to write. After 10 months I now know he loves Facebook. He's not shy about looking after those around him and he genuinely wants to do a good job.

The Mr Nasty that people told me about-well, I've not met him.

Two days left but no campaigning today. Banks is standing by his son, who's giving evidence at the inquest of James Webster's death. It's a tough day. TV3 releases a poll this evening. We're well behind. My old workmate Duncan Garner calls the election for Len. Not surprised, but thanks DG.

D-Day. I meet Banks at the top of Mt Eden; he's with a TV crew. They ask, "How do you think you've done?" Ever the optimist, he replies: "It's not over." But you can tell this campaign has drained the veteran. It's no wonder, he's left everything on the field.

Banks turns to me and says: "We're off for coffee Scotty, meet you at the Town Hall."

I'm a bit stunned, I have the camera but there's not a mention of Facebook. I grab a final picture anyway.

It's 12.30pm. The result is close. Banks arrives with his family. He's smiling and still beams confidence. He heads straight for his office. We're alone in the room and we shake hands: "It's been a great ride," I tell him.

He sits and looks down at the two speeches...he picks up just one.

* Scott Campbell's contract finished at 1pm on election day, Saturday October 9. He has now returned to the world of private PR contracting. This diary was written independently of John Banks and the campaign team.