No deal to keep Hardaker out, say mayoral candidates
Leading city mayoral candidates have ruled out striking a deal to try and ensure incumbent and poll front-runner Julie Hardaker is not re-elected.
Ewan Wilson and Dave Macpherson told the Waikato Times they believe they have a genuine chance of toppling Ms Hardaker, and each has categorically ruled out any agreement for one to stand aside to help the other's chances.
This is despite an arrangement etched earlier this year that would have seen Mr Macpherson, backed by money from a non-standing Mr Wilson, take on Ms Hardaker in the race for mayor.
The Times' first mayoralty poll put Ms Hardaker in front with 20 per cent to Wilson's 10 and Macpherson's 6. However, 49 per cent were undecided, prompting speculation that one of the trailing candidates could bow out to increase the chance of ousting her.
Unreleased candidate polling conducted in the week after the Times' poll suggested the Wilson-Hardaker gap had closed. However, Mr Macpherson is likely to have made gains since, with the chasing pair both making significant mileage out of Ms Hardaker's support for residential water meters.
"There is no deal, there was no deal, there'll be no deal," Mr Macpherson said.
"I would never ask my supporters to throw away who they'd vote for. I'm going all out, and I'm much more confident now than I was at the start," he said.
Mr Macpherson did confirm an earlier arrangement with Mr Wilson.
In April, the pair privately agreed one of them would challenge Ms Hardaker.
Mr Macpherson said that in May, Mr Wilson said he would not stand, and that he had offered to pay for television advertising for Mr Macpherson's campaign.
But two days before nominations closed Mr Wilson declared a bid for the mayoralty.
Mr Macpherson's account of the agreement emerged after a social media grilling by West Ward candidate and former city councillor, Steve McLennan.
Mr McLennan baited Mr Macpherson over whether a "shonky" deal with Mr Wilson was in the offing, where one would stand down to try and help oust Ms Hardaker.
Yesterday, Mr Wilson also assured voters that no deal was coming. He said the pair had not discussed either one pulling out to benefit the other.
"I would not endorse another mayoral candidate. Democracy is richer for the fact that the public have a clear choice between three candidates. I believe there are important differences between all three," he said.
"I'm the centric candidate with the others being at polar extremes on the political spectrum."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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