Over the weekend, John Palino told the Herald on Sunday that he wouldn’t rule out another shot at becoming Auckland mayor. He’ll make the decision in about eighteen months, and see where he’s at. I would presume he’s working on the assumption that Len Brown will bow out (dis)gracefully and that, with no incumbent running, name recognition would get Palino over the line as the centre-right’s man.
I think we can confidently predict though that Mr Palino will not end up casting his hat into the ring, but that should he do so, his campaign will again be that of an also-ran. Last year, Mr Palino ended up as the centre-right candidate almost by default. Len Brown was seen as nigh-on unbeatable, and no strong right wing candidate was prepared to spend the time and money on a campaign that was likely to lose. Maurice Williamson was almost persuaded to go there, in the glow of his post-“Rainbow Speech”, but that conjecture didn’t last long once he ran the numbers on Brown’s prior drubbing of John Banks.
Len Brown, despite his occasional talk of standing for a third term, surely won’t go there. With no incumbent, both the Left and Right will already be scoping out the strongest candidates possible. The two names that keep getting bandied about are Phil Goff and Paul Henry, both of whom have huge name recognition and a considerable existing base of support, political or otherwise.
Mr Palino, on the other hand, is dirty used goods. Cameron Slater’s positively inept attempt to unseat Len Brown post-election ended up doing a hatchet job on Palino’s reputation. There are still outstanding questions about what Mr Palino knew and when, regarding the Bevan Chuang affair, and he seems determined to obfuscate whenever asked. Those are questions that would continue to be raised should Palino decide to try his hand at politics for a second time.
Mr Palino may have had former National Party president, John Slater, as his campaign manager, but it seems that very few other National figures were prepared to go near the campaign. Certainly, after hearing Mr Slater’s plaintive cries that, despite being campaign manager, he wasn’t told anything about what Palino’s more nefarious operatives were up to, any National party support for Palino has long since melted away.
Methinks Mr Palino should perhaps focus his attentions on restaurants and/or reality TV.