Dalziel looks like she'll win by default
ANNA TURNER, MARC GREENHILL AND ALAN WOOD
Local Elections 2013
Christchurch's mayoralty race looks set to be more like a walk in the park than a sprint to the finish, with Lianne Dalziel's most likely contender, Ngaire Button, revealing she is now "unlikely" to stand.
The city was set for a close fight between the long-standing Christchurch East MP and incumbent Mayor Bob Parker when it went to the polls in October.
Parker's shock decision on Friday night to withdraw from seeking re-election has left the field wide open.
Dalziel has told The Press she wants a "hotly-contested" mayoralty race and asked candidates to declare against her.
Until yesterday, Button, who is deputy mayor, looked set to do so.
After saying on Sunday she was "considering her options", Dalziel wasted no time lashing out.
Dalziel told Newstalk ZB that Button "stands for nothing" – a reference to Button's newly launched independent group, City First.
After the slight, Button told The Press she was "very unlikely" to stand for mayor. "I have not decided to stand for the mayoralty, in fact I would say it is unlikely."
As for Dalziel's jibe, Button said: "I stand for a lot of things but party politics isn't one of them."
Other possible Dalziel rivals include Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce boss Peter Townsend and Cr Tim Carter.
Townsend was yesterday taking a "no comment" approach to a potential mayoralty bid.
Speaking from Taupo, Townsend said he had a few months ago ruled it out, but noted that the situation had changed and turned "volatile".
Asked if he had personal aspirations for the role, he said there had been others asking the same question in recent days.
"I mean I've made it clear I would not stand for the mayor, but the political environment's changed a bit," Townsend said. "But I'm making no comment."
Christchurch Central MP Nicky Wagner said Townsend was highly respected and would make a good mayor, but would not be specific about having talked to him about it. "I would leave them to tell you what they think."
Carter, originally the favourite to run for mayor, said in April he was withdrawing and offering Dalziel his support, but appears already under pressure to get back in contention.
Columnist Mike Yardley believed Carter or Button were "really the only two strong possible candidates" to take on Dalziel, saying he would "love to see" Carter step up and run.
Carter could not be reached for comment last night.
Cr Aaron Keown, who has twice run for mayor, said he "almost certainly" would not run this year. He backed Button or another candidate who was "not in any obvious political camp".
Crs Jamie Gough and Claudia Reid confirmed they would not run for mayor.
- © Fairfax NZ News