Mayor claims Left is conspiring to oust him

NOT AN ISSUE: Jim Anderton says he won't quit Parliament.
NOT AN ISSUE: Jim Anderton says he won't quit Parliament.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker is accusing "the Left" of conspiring against him in the mayoralty race.

This follows contender Liz Gordon's announcement yesterday to pull out to avoid splitting the leftist vote and handing the top job to Mr Parker.

Ms Gordon's decision effectively confirmed the race for the mayoral chains is a two-man one between Mr Parker and Wigram MP Jim Anderton.

Ms Gordon said she was not endorsing Mr Anderton, and attacked his decision not to resign from Parliament to focus on the mayoralty battle.

Ms Gordon plans to stand for council in October in the Riccarton-Wigram ward.

Mr Parker said it appeared "the Left" was conspiring against him.

"I'm not sure why Liz put her hand up in the first place."

Party political campaigning was not the best reason to stand for the mayoralty, he said.

"It should not be about party politics but about the city."

Mr Anderton dismissed Mr Parker's theory. "Anybody that thinks I'm in a conspiracy with Liz Gordon has to be No1 on the paranoid conspiracy list."

He said Ms Gordon was free to make her own decisions.

Ms Gordon quit the contest despite telling Fairfax that her polling showed she already had about 10 per cent of the vote.

Mr Anderton and Mr Parker questioned those figures.

Ms Gordon said Mr Parker was "responsible for a series of high-profile, terrible decisions by this council, and the first priority must be to ensure that he is not re-elected".

Mr Anderton had a better chance of winning with a "party machine" behind him.

"If I stayed in the race ... the possible outcome is a Parker victory, and I will certainly not be responsible for that," she said.

She criticised Mr Anderton's decision to "have it all" by refusing to quit as Wigram MP before next year's general election.

Had Mr Anderton announced he was resigning from Parliament to fight for the mayoralty, "it would have been something special", she said.

"As it is, he has left a bad taste in people's mouths. Jim will win the mayoralty, but many people are not exactly enthusiastic about having a part-time mayor," she said.

Mr Anderton yesterday repeated that he would not resign from Parliament. "It's a not big issue with people."

Meanwhile, a man once called the city's "hottest candidate" has joined the mayoralty contest.

Nathan Ryan, who said his 2007 campaign poster made him look like "a Backstreet Boy", said he wanted the top job.

He was also standing for the council and for the Hagley-Ferrymead Community Board.

Mr Ryan drew attention when he ran for the Hagley-Ferrymead ward at the 2007 election, when campaign posters bearing his photo were apparently stolen by female fans.

Jo Giles, who also unsuccessfully ran for mayor that year, called Mr Ryan "the hottest candidate in Christchurch".

Mr Ryan said he would focus on returning core services to the council and imposing harsher penalties for graffiti.

He said he was "realistic" about his chances.

The Timaru Herald