The Green Party is in the midst of formally selecting the candidates it intends to run at the 2023 election.
Multiple Green Party sources have tipped former Auckland mayoral candidate Efeso Collins as a likely candidate with a shot at getting a good list ranking, although this is far from guaranteed.
With current MPs Eugenie Sage and Jan Logie retiring at the election, two spots have opened up in a winnable part of the party list. The Greens are currently polling slightly higher than at the 2020 election, raising the possibility the party might add one or more MPs to its caucus in 2023. The party currently has 10 MPs.
Candidates seeking a spot on the Green Party list, likely the only way into Parliament, had to put themselves forward at the end of last year. Those potential candidates are currently going through the process of selection and have not officially been confirmed as party candidates yet.
Candidates could also choose to drop out.
But a slew of names have been floated to the Herald as potential candidates who will likely announce their candidacy in the coming months.
Collins is the most high-profile. He came second to Wayne Brown in last year’s Auckland mayoral race.
Running as an independent, Collins was endorsed by both Labour and the Greens. Multiple sources say he has put himself forward for candidacy.
Collins said he is continuing “to weigh up my options for the future and have made no concrete decisions“.
“I’m enjoying the break from local politics, however remain committed to strong, local advocacy,” he said.
Steve Abel is also a likely candidate. Abel was ranked 11 on the Green Party’s 2020 list and came so close to winning a seat in Parliament at the last election that he travelled to Wellington for the MPs’ induction, in case special votes bumped him into Parliament.
He is currently at Greenpeace and was considered an outside chance to contest the co-leadership this year when James Shaw was bumped at the party AGM. Abel eventually decided against running.
Former ECan councillor Lan Pham is another likely candidate for a winnable position on the list. Pham has a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and an interest in freshwater management. At the time of her election, she was ECan’s highest polling candidate in history, but retired from the job at the last round of local body elections.
Other likely candidates from the South Island include environmental lawyer Teall Crossen, energy-focused climate consultant Scott Willis, and former OUSA President and ex-Climate Commission employee, Francisco Hernandez.
Former Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins, who had been touted as a possible candidate after losing the mayoralty at the 2022 local government elections, is said not to have put his hand up for candidacy.
Policy advisor and occasional actor Kahurangi Carter is also rumoured to be running.
Other likely candidates include former Green Party Parliamentary staffers Stephanie Rodgers and Pete Huggins, who is likely to run a party vote-only campaign.
Not all candidates will choose to go on the party list - some will run in their electorates only.
The Green Party has asked these candidates not to speak to the media, meaning those on the track to candidacy, including those who are almost certain to get it, aren’t able to comment on their candidacy currently.
Potential candidates declined requests for comment, in most cases referring questions to the party, but multiple Green Party sources have floated these potential candidates mentioned in this article.
A Green Party spokesperson said the party would be “confirming candidates over the coming months”.
They said candidates would “announce once selected”.
They said the party was “set to put forward a strong team who will take bold climate action, deliver strong protections for native wildlife; and rebalance wealth so everyone can have a good life”.
The party is in the midst of its months-long process of selecting candidates and ranking them on the party list. Potential candidates who wanted to go on the party list had to be nominated by the end of last November. Collins did not answer whether he had gone through this stage of the nomination process or not.
After interviews and checks with people nominating those candidates, they are placed in the candidate pool, a group of all the people the party is putting forward as candidates at the next election.
In February, party delegates will get together for a conference with the candidates. Those delegates report back to their branches about what they think of the candidates and, based on the feedback they get, produce an initial list, which acts as a guide from highly-active party members to less active members for how they believe the party list should be ranked.
Party members then vote for what is likely to be the final list, using that initial list as a guide.
Provided this list isn’t unbalanced in terms of the representation it gives to Māori, Pasifika, disabled people, women, South Islanders, and people under 35, it becomes the final list that the party submits to the Electoral Commission for the 2023 election.
It is likely that the members’ list will reflect these criteria and not need balancing - however, there is a possibility, given Christchurch-based MP, Sage’s retirement, that the list may be altered to bump South Island candidates a maximum of two places up the list from where members have placed them.
Given all Green Party members have a say over the Green Party list, the list-ranking exercise has occasionally been used as an opportunity to express dissatisfaction with the party leadership.
In 2020, the party’s Green Left Network, a group of left-wing Green members produced a draft list encouraging its members to vote for a list of 12 left-leaning candidates from whose number co-leader Shaw’s name was conspicuously absent.
It was perhaps a sign of things to come and party members eventually triggered Shaw’s brief ousting from the co-leadership in 2022 after he failed to secure the supermajority of delegate votes needed to keep the job. He was eventually reinstated.
An early harbinger of things to come is the Green Left Network appears unlikely to repeat this strategy in 2023.
This year, it will likely endorse particular candidates instead of producing an entire alternative list.
The party has had a surge of interest in candidacy for this election. Nearly double the number of people have put themselves forward for list ranking in 2023 compared to the previous election.
The party is also slated to roll out a new style of campaigning at this election. Previously, candidates either ran “two tick” - one for the candidate, another for the party - or party vote only campaigns in their electorates.
This election there are mooted to be seven different styles of campaigning that will be used in different electorates. Candidates like Chlöe Swarbrick will continue to run two-tick campaigns, but other electorates may choose to run something between a two-tick and a party vote-only campaign.
After Swarbrick’s success in Auckland Central in 2020, and the success of Tory Whanau, the Green-endorsed former chief of staff, in the Wellington Mayoralty race in 2022, the party is considering running more electorate races.