Greens MP Chlöe Swarbrick says the race for the Auckland Central seat is now “incredibly exciting” after losing a “formidable opponent” in National’s Nikki Kaye.
Her comments come after Ms Kaye, the former National Party deputy leader and MP for Auckland Central, announced this morning she was resigning from politics.
Ms Swarbrick, who is openly contesting for the electorate seat in contrast to the Greens’ usual approach of targeting the overall party vote, said Ms Kaye’s resignation was partly down to luck.
However, she said the Greens were already “rearing and ready to go” against Ms Kaye in the electorate.
“She would have been a formidable opponent,” Ms Swarbrick said.
“Now, we have an incredibly exciting race with no incumbent.”
But she wouldn’t say whether it was now easier for her to win the seat after Ms Kaye’s departure.
“It’s anyone’s game. What Nikki’s resignation means is that … nothing can be taken for granted,” Ms Swarbrick said.
“Now more than ever, this is anybody’s race to win.”
She said she “loved” the electorate, which was why she pushed to run openly in the electorate.
“We’ll continue working really hard and putting that value proposition of strong representation to the voters.”
When asked about a possible seat deal with Labour, similar to the National-ACT agreement in Epsom, Ms Swarbrick said the seat wasn’t held by Labour to begin with.
She said the Green Party wasn’t seeking a deal in the electorate and she wasn’t aware of any deals being made.
It comes as Jacinda Ardern said today she wouldn't be cutting any deals to ensure the Greens would return to Parliament after the election.
"That's not something that we've engaged in before and it's not something I see any reason to right now," Ms Ardern said.
"As I've said for many, many months, Labour hasn't done seat deals in the past, I see no reason to change that."
Ms Swarbrick said she didn’t know who or whether National would put another candidate in place of Ms Kaye in the electorate.
Ms Swarbrick said Ms Kaye’s personal popularity in Auckland Central had always outpaced her party’s popularity when comparing party and electorate votes.
“They will be big boots to fill,” she said of any potential replacement for Ms Kaye, who was known to be more liberal-leaning than her party.
“Very few people in politics get to decide when to leave on their own terms.
“In Auckland Central, you can’t go to a community or a business meeting without hearing Nikki is an incredibly hard-working local MP.”