Thomas asked to pull out of Auckland mayoral race

11:08 am on 13 September 2016

Auckland mayoral candidate Mark Thomas says he has been asked to pull out of the race - but will stick around to challenge Phil Goff.

Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

Mr Thomas released a statement today saying he had been asked to withdraw, and he forecast a clear win for Mr Goff.

"I'll be a candidate for mayor in 2019 against, I expect, an incumbent Phil Goff," Mr Thomas told RNZ's Morning Report.

Mr Thomas said he wanted a united front to defeat Mr Goff.

Mr Thomas told Morning Report Mr Goff did not have the right policies and he would spend the rest of the campaign trying to expose that.

"People are concerned that they feel Phil Goff as being inevitable, they want to focus attention on that. And what I am going to do for the next three and a half weeks is join that campaign, to make people see that Phil Goff doesn't have the policy or ideas to help improve Auckland Council."

Mr Thomas would not say who it was who had asked him to withdraw from the election. He said he had been approached by "four or five" people.

Mr Thomas was ranked fifth in a recently published poll, on 1.7 percent, with Mr Goff on 32 percent, and the leading centre-right candidate Vic Crone on 8 percent, according to the survey by SSi for the website The Spinoff.

John Palino, the 2013 runner-up, polled 4.1 percent, and activist Penny Bright had 2.4 percent support.

Mr Thomas was the first to launch a bid late last year, and has campaigned energetically, pitching himself as the only candidate with local government experience.

He has had two terms on the Orakei Local Board, the second tier of the Auckland Council, and in 1996 unsuccessfully stood for National in Wellington Central.

A spokesperson for Ms Crone said her team had not spoken to Mr Thomas, and Michelle Boag - who had been active in trying to find a centre-right mayoral candidate - said she had not had contact with him for months.

Mr Thomas was known to have got offside with some on the centre-right in Auckland, for continuing to campaign once Ms Crone entered the race.

"I will use the remaining weeks to make people aware of the lack of change a Phil Goff mayoralty will bring," Mr Thomas said.

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