Labour candidate wins Mt Albert seat

01:51, Jun 26 2009

Results on the Elections NZ website show Labour's David Shearer has taken a commanding victory in the Mt Albert by-election, with 12,613 votes to National candidate Melissa Lee's 3426.

Website electionresults.govt.nz reported 100 percent of the vote is counted, and Labour's David Shearer has taken the seat with a majority of 9187 votes.

Green Party candidate Russell Norman is in third place with 2418 votes, and Act's John Boscawen came fourth, with 943 votes.

The Bill and Ben party took out fifth place, with its candidate receiving 151 votes.

Hundreds of buoyant Labour supporters erupted into jubilant celebrations as the results came through where they were gathered in a large industrial hall in suburban Mt Albert.

David Shearer said the evening had been "really, really special".

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He thanked the people of Mt Albert for coming out and voting for him.

"I'm following in some very big shoes and that's been reminded to me numerous times over the past few weeks.

"Helen has texted us, as you know, she's been on the phone, she's been taking an active interest in this."

Labour Party Phil Goff said "I know there is one very happy lady in New York tonight."

Goff had embraced Shearer before announcing "here he is, we've got the champion".

Labour MP Darren Hughes told the crowd "it has been a fantastic night for David Shearer, the Labour Party and Mt Albert."

An obviously upset Melissa Lee read a prepared statement to media tonight,  congratulating David Shearer and acknowledging she had made mistakes during her campaign.

She said she would taking a few days off.

About 50 National supporters had crowded into Padka Indian restaurant, decked out for the occasion in streamers and blue balloons.

MPs Pansy Wong, Nikki Kaye and Jonathan Coleman joined Lee, but Prime Minister John Key was notably absent.

Russel Norman has addressed his supporters at the Green Party by-election night headquarters and said
the campaign had been a robust one.

"I think we showed tonight that the Green Party can compete strongly in what was a very strong Labour electorate.

"We have shown we were a force to reckoned with."

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said the evening had made it clear "New Zealand politics is now a three horse race"

The Mt Albert seat fell vacant after the incumbant, former PM Helen Clark, left Parliament to take up a job with the United Nations earlier this year.

Labour had feared apathy could eat into their lead and that the Greens could woo some of their voters away.

Labour poured resources into the campaign as any other than a healthy victory would have hit the morale of the party hard as it tries to recover from last year's election victory.

National went into the campaign with high hopes that the recent campaign victory, continuing nationwide popularity and the sometimes quirky nature of by-elections might give them a chance of an upset.

However, Ms Lee made a series of gaffes and ill-judged comments which virtually eliminated any chance she had of taking the seat.

The announcement of details of a motorway cutting through the electorate also may have damaged National's chances.

Even in the last stages of the campaign Ms Lee managed to infuriate a low-income audience in the electorate by telling them she was paid only $2 an hour.

Mt Albert by- election final result.

Incumbent: Clark, Helen (Labour) 2008 Majority: 10,351

Leading candidate: David Shearer (LAB) majority 9187

CANDIDATE VOTES

Jim Bagnall (IND) 22;

Ari Baker (IND) 15;

John Boscawen (ACT) 943;

Ben Boyce (BILL AND BEN) 151;

Simonne Dyer (KIWI) 85;

Malcolm France (PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT) 13;

Dakta Green (LEGALISE CANNABIS) 85;

Rusty Kane (PEOPLES CHOICE) 5;

Melissa Lee (NATIONAL) 3426;

Russel Norman (GREEN) 2418;

Julian Pistorius (LIBERTARIANZ) 35;

David Shearer (LABOUR) 12,613;

Judy Turner (UNITED FUTURE) 82;

Anthony Van Den Heuvel (HUMAN RIGHTS) 14;

Jackson Wood (IND) 9;

Candidate informals 76

TOTAL 19,992

- CLIO FRANCIS and ANN AITKEN WORTH with NZPA