There was an interesting article in yesterday’s Herald where Len Brown’s future was discussed. Bernard Orsman raised the prospect of Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse having a tilt at the top job.
Auckland mayor Len Brown has returned from a month-long overseas holiday to a budget revolt by local boards and his deputy Penny Hulse not discounting a bid for the mayoral chains.
Last night, Mrs Hulse said she was asked three or four times a day if she wanted to be mayor and indicated she would make a decision next year.
“Would I have a crack at the top job? I wouldn’t discount it but there is an awful amount of water to flow under the bridge and a hell of a lot of time before the next election,” she told the Weekend Herald.
Mrs Hulse said she was loyal to the mayor and would never stand against him.
“The last thing he needs is a deputy mayor quietly kneecapping him in the background. That is not something I would do,” Mrs Hulse said.
Refusing to rule something out is normally political speak for something is being seriously considered.
Although there is two years to go until the next election the size of the job means that planning should start now. There are 1.3 million citizens in the Super City and the logistics of campaigning are complex.
The article raises two questions, should Len run again, and if not Len then who should progressives support?
The impression I get at this stage is that Len does want to run again. His proposed rates increase of 2.5% is conservative and barely enough to keep up with inflation let alone fund the inner city link which he is committed to doing. If this was going to be his last term he probably would have aimed higher because the political implications would be less important.
But can he succeed? You would have to question this given the revelations concerning Bevan Chuang. It is not as if he was held in high esteem by the left before the revelations were made.
Up against a substandard candidate and a bunch of inept campaign managers last time Len won easily. This time you can expect the right will be much better organised.
If not Len then Penny Hulse may be the front runner candidate for the broad left. She has huge support in West Auckland and if she can get the support of the Labour Party in South Auckland she could succeed. She has been solid on Council. She has managed to keep work progressing for Len and has built a reasonably solid majority for him on most matters. On issues such as the Ports of Auckland attack on the MUNZ union she has voted the right way including one occasion where she voted in the opposite way to Len.
None of the other progressive Councillors look like they are up to the job. They would need to be able to unite South and West and Penny looks like the only person able to do this.
The other option would be for an MP, a la Lianne Dalziel, to make the transition. Phil Goff’s name has been mentioned in the past as a possible contender.
The position is vital. The super city mayor has huge powers and is probably the third most powerful politician in the country. National designed the role thinking that only one of their kind could amass the resources needed to campaign successfully. Len has shown how to do this. If this is Len’s last term then progressives need to settle on a successor and make sure they win.