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Opinion: John Palino running for Auckland mayor, campaign led by controversial strategist

Update:
Controversial right-wing political strategist Simon Lusk is confirmed to be running John Palino’s mayoral campaign.

Lusk is an ally of Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater and a central figure in Nicky Hagar’s book Dirty Politics.

On his website Lusk says "he believes that the amateur nature of politics in New Zealand means that spending money and professionalism can win campaigns".

John Slater is not involved at this stage.

Auckland mayoral hopeful John Palino speaks to ONE News. Source: 1 NEWS

Monday:
John Palino is standing to be the Mayor of Auckland.

He will make the announcement next Monday at 2pm at his new cafe, Friend of the Farmer in Takanini.

I know this because the man himself just rang me to let me know where and when he will be declaring.

I've also spoken to several people Palino has approached to be part of his campaign, all of whom - without exception - have run a mile.

That's because Palino's last tilt to become leader of our largest city went up in flames, just days after 100,000 Aucklanders put a tick beside his name.

To recap, and bear with me here, you'll remember Bevan Chuang was having an affair with Auckland's Mayor Len Brown.

She also claimed to have another lover, Luigi Wewege, who worked on Palino's campaign.

In the days after his boss lost the Mayoral race, Chuang claims Wewege urged her to go public about her Mayoral affair through Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater, which she duly did in an excruciating fashion.

Wewege, you may remember, denied her claims.

An affidavit containing explicit details of Chuang and Brown's affair was published, including the fact that the pair had been caught naked in the Ngati Whatua room at Council.

Then Chuang decided she wasn't finished, and declared that it was all a right wing conspiracy orchestrated by Palino and Wewege to force Brown into resigning.

Palino denied all knowledge but did admit to having a three hour meeting with the mayor's mistress in his car at a carpark in Mission Bay, the night before she went public.

Luigi Wewege, Bevan Chuang and John Palino Source: Supplied

Yes, it was one of the strangest episodes in the history of local government politics.

At the time Palino put out a statement denying any involvement and then he disappeared, for three years.

Which was where everyone thought that this story would end. But today he rang - the former TV Chef is back from the dead.

He sounded excited, optimistic even, despite everything that has happened. So what is he thinking?

Palino has been telling people that his comeback is by popular demand.

He says hundreds of people have come through his café asking him to run for mayor again.

Former National Party President and father of the blogger Whale Oil, John Slater, managed John Palino's 2013 campaign. And, my sources say, he's managing Palino again.

But that's where Palino's right wing backing begins and ends.

The conservative establishment in Auckland is outraged he is going up against Victoria Crone and could potentially split the vote.

It's also embarrassed that one of the sleaziest episodes in New Zealand politics is about to be re-litigated.

As one right wing insider summed it up – it's either naive, or selfish – Palino was thrashed by Brown in 2013 when he was the only candidate on the right of the spectrum.

So what is he up to exactly? I guess we'll find out on Monday.