In a fascinating development Christchurch City Councillor Raf Manji has announced that he will be contesting the seat of Ilam against Christchurch Rebuild Minister Gerry Brownlee in the 2017 election.
The seat is and always has been a National stronghold and has been won by Brownlee since it was created in 1996. Last election his majority was 11,898. Normally it would not be in play.
But Manji, who is a local councillor, is well respected and could do Brownlee’s chances some damage. As far as I can tell his ward, Waimairi, occupies at least some of the same area as the Ilam seat. And he is highly regarded and does a good job managing Christchurch’s finances. So things could get interesting.
Christchurch City councillor Raf Manji says he has the support of National Party voters in Ilam and believes he can beat incumbent Gerry Brownlee in this year’s general election.
Manji confirmed on Friday he is standing as an independent candidate in Christchurch’s Ilam electorate, after Stuff revealed the Waimairi ward councillor was considering making a play for the seat.
He believes that he has a chance.
Manji accepted National was “very strong” in Ilam, but believed that was changing.
“I’ve had two elections here over the last three-and-a-half years, and won both of those, and the feedback I get is people want some change and they want a different perspective and a different type of leadership as well.
“The way way that I’m approaching it is people can still vote for their party, and that’s actually what the real vote is, but they can have me as an electorate candidate.
“I think the challenges for Christchurch are actually still very large, we’ve got another five to 10 years ahead of us and we seem to have no plan for what’s going to happen.”
Manji should be a card carrying member of National. He previously worked for the same Merchant Bank that John Key worked for and spent a decade working in London’s Financial markets.
But clearly he is upset at National’s handling of the rebuild. Brownlee’s disdain for heritage, and his autocratic mode of dealing with issues and blaming others for any mistake mean that Manji obviously thinks he has nothing to lose.
Labour’s candidate is Anthony Rimmell who Manji bet easily in the last Council election. The Green candidate is David Lee who is a Wellington City Councillor and has some unusual ideas about campaigning.
This can be tough on candidates who generally immerse themselves into campaigns and give it their all. But some sort of accommodation with Manji should be considered. Because if anyone could beat Brownlee it would be him.