A stoush is brewing in Labour over a possible replacement for Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel, with locals warning that attempts to parachute list MP Clayton Cosgrove into the seat will be resisted.
Speculation inside Labour has suggested that Cosgrove, who lost the Waimakariri seat in 2011, could be an option.
If he won that would bring in the next candidate on Labour's party list, Northland-based Kelvin Davis, who is seen as a strong supporter of leader David Shearer.
Dalziel, who is running for Christchurch mayor in October as an independent, was a close supporter of Shearer's former rival for the leadership, David Cunliffe.
She has announced she will quit the seat, which she held in 2011 with a 5334-vote majority, and force a by-election. It will probably be held in late November or early December.
Yesterday, Cosgrove would not rule himself in or out as a candidate for the seat. He was "very flattered and humbled" to be mentioned as a possibility.
"But it's all speculation. That's all I'm saying."
However, a well-placed Labour source in Christchurch East said there was a lot of "negativity" towards Cosgrove.
"If he does come this way there will be big problems."
Locals being mentioned in connection with the seat include James Caygill, whose father David Caygill was finance minister in the Lange Labour government.
Councillor Glenn Livingstone has not ruled himself out but said he had no plans for a tilt at Parliament at this stage.
Leanne Curtis, a manager at Canterbury Communities' Earthquake Recovery Network, said yesterday she was "happy to say I am not standing".
Prime Minister John Key said National was yet to discuss if it would stand a candidate in the by-election, but "in all probability" it would put someone up.
"I think we would run into that campaign with our eyes open and our expectations very low."
There has never been a by-election in which the Government has won a seat it did not already hold. National's party vote was 46.1 per cent in the seat in 2011 against 31.65 per cent for Labour. The Greens took 11.65 per cent of the party vote.
In the mayoral race, Dalziel, who has been a strong critic of the Government's earthquake recovery efforts, will be up against sitting mayor Bob Parker, who has also been off-side with National on several issues.
But Key said the Government could happily work with Dalziel. "If she was to win the mayoralty yes, no question. We, as the Government, will work with whoever is democratically elected to council, and we've proven that in the past."
Labour leader David Shearer said Dalziel was an outstanding candidate for the mayoralty. Labour's loss was the city's gain.
"Christchurch needs strong leadership. Lianne's experience and understanding of both the local issues and of central government make her an ideal candidate for mayor."
- © Fairfax NZ News
Should Judith Collins resign?