Both major parties selected their Botany candidates last night, and they have a certain amount in common. Both are married men in their 20s (actually Michael may have just turned 30) and both are currently elected local body representatives.
There are differences also of course. Jami-Lee Ross is local, and Michael Wood is not. Also Jami-Lee is on the Auckland Council, and Michael on the Puketepapa Local Board. Michael is a professional trade unionist and Jami-Lee has been an elected Councillor since he was 18.
Jami-Lee ran an error-free campaign for the nomination, and expectations are he will do the same in the by-election. He is an experienced campaigner and his wife, Lucy, works tirelessly on his campaigns also. People at the selection meeting say he gave a good victory speech, and importantly thanked Pansy Wong who still has considerable good will.
It is hard to see a scenario where Jami-Lee does not become the MP for Botany, and has a long parliamentary career ahead of him.
Incidentially the person most delighted with Jami-Lee’s win is probably Len Brown. Jami-Lee was very effectuive at holding the Mayor to account.
Labour’s candidate Michael Wood, is also expected to run an excellent campaign. Michael is an experienced campaigner and will be effective at prosecuting Labour’s case against the Government. Equally Jami-Lee will respond robustly.
Pansy won 56% of the vote in 2008 with a 10,872 majority. There is no doubt this will be greatly reduced. The Labour candidate in 2008 was pretty invisible and fewer than 70% of even Labour party voters voted for him. By-elections traditionally go against the Government (Mana was the exception). The majorities in the last few by-elections where the Government was defending a seat were:
- 1998 TKC – majority of 988 (down from 10,000+)
- 1994 Selwyn – majority of 428
- 1992 Tamaki – majority was under 1,000 off memory, vote share went from 59% to 45%
Add in that ACT are strong in Botany, and could campaign strongly and I’d say the likely vote share for National is betwene 45% and 50%. If you also add on that turnout will be much lower, I’d be pretty surprised if the majority was over 5,000 and could even be around the 3,000 mark. I would not read too much into that if it occurs, as at the general election it normally bounces back.