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Rankin to stand for Conservatives in Epsom

The Act Party's chance of returning to Parliament at the election is about to be dealt a body blow, with the imminent annoucement by the Conservative Party that chief executive Christine Rankin will contest the Epsom electorate. 

NBR ONLINE understands the Conservative Party plans to announce Ms Rankin's candicacy this weekend.

When contacted by NBR ONLINE this morning, Ms Rankin neither confirmed nor denied an Epsom candidacy, simply stating that she had no comment to make. 

The high profile, controversial Ms Rankin is likely to pull more traditional centre-right voters in and even if she does not win the seat, will make it much more difficult for Act Party candidate David Seymour to win it. 

National's candidate, Paul Goldsmith, is campaigning for the party vote. Earlier this week Prime Minister John Key indicated National would prefer its voters to vote for Mr Seymour in Epsom. 

ACT Party president John Thompson says he welcomed Ms Rankin’s addition to the race in Epsom and was happy that she was well enough to run, because he says he remembers that she was not well enough to contest the Upper Harbour electorate seat against National’s Paula Bennett.

“We welcome any Johnny-come-lately, or Joanne-come-lately, into the Epsom race, as David Seymour has already knocked on 10,000 doors,” Mr Thompson says.

While the electorate is, as one of the wealthiest in the country, a long way from swinging behind one of the left wing parties,  the advent of the colourful and controversial Ms Rankin will split the liberal-conservative vote and throw the race wide open. 

Act is polling at around 1%  - a long way from the 5% party vote threshold - and needs the seat to return to Parliament. 

The Conservatives are currently polling at 1.6% on the Curia rolling poll of polls. Mr Key earlier this week ruled out supporting the Conservative Party leader, Colin Craig, in the East Coast Bays electorate. 

In 2012 Ms Rankin was elected to the Conservative Party board and in May 2013 she took up the role of CEO while still the Families Commissioner; a move that resulted in allegations of conflicts of interest by some Green Party and Labour MPs.

Ms Rankin has courted controversy throughout her public career. She was head of Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) in the late 1990s where both her management and personal style became embroiled in political conflict.

An expensive “rebranding exercise” of WINZ, which included a $165,000 team building exercise at the Waiariki resort and a boosterish video which included footage of Ms Rankin lined up with photos of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, triggered something of a furore and led to an Auditor Generals’ report which concluded there was a lack of “clear understanding in the department as to what is acceptable expenditure of public money." 

Ms Rankin became something of a hate-figure for the incoming Helen Clark-led government in 1999, and her personal style - short skirts and large earrings - also became the subject of much comment. 

That led to its own backlash: the Employment Court case, which eventuated when Ms Rankin’s contract was not renewed by the new government, heard how the then Social Welfare Minister, Steve Maharey, had criticised her standard of dress.

There was even a “Christine Rankin Day” in 2001, when women public sector workers (including then-Opposition leader Jenny Shipley) wore short skirts and long dangly earrings. 

In 2009 National appointed her to the Families Commission, triggering the resignation of some other commission members who accused her of racism. 

More recently she has served as a member of the Waitemata District Health Board.

What do you think? Will Christine Rankin's candidacy derail National's attempt to gift Epsom to ACT? Click here to vote in our subscriber-only business pulse poll.

Comments and questions

This just means that National has to stop gaming the system and run an honest, local-candidate campaign in Epsom and take the seat.

If she makes it plain she's only after the party vote, this is a shrewd move. This electorate campaign is high profile, so both the Conservatives and ACT get media oxygen. Both are strong candidates, so neither should suffer the common problem of head to head campaigning, where media compression means the good candidate is dragged down by 'rolling with a pig', and Christine is free to try to hoover up any National party votes loosened by the accomodation with National. I expect that is the theory anyway.

It sounds extremely selfish to me. All she has to do is get 2000 votes from ACT, the National candidate will win, ACT will be out, and the country might get a hard-left Green/Mana/Labour government. Just so she can get her picture in the paper? It sounds almost as pathetic as Harre contesting Helensville, just so she can debate John Key. It's all about them, isn't it.

I have a great deal of respect for Christine Ranking but I am not sure why she would stand in Epsom thereby splitting the right leaning vote and potentially delivering a left wing government. There must be other electorates she could do well in and very likely be elected. For instance, I am a right leaning voter in Botany which is currently a strong National seat and I would certainly vote for her should she stand there.

Revenge is a powerful motivator...

Because when you look at the Conservative's economic policies they are decidedly authoritarian and left wing; for example through controlling what people can do with their property.

And ditto with Tamaki. We sadly lost a great constituency MP in Allan Peachey some years back when he died. Most of us find that Allan is still more active in the seat! Mr four degrees is more interested in advancing himself in Wellington than advancing any of our local causes, which he clearly finds superficial.
Rankin could make huge inroads in Epsom if she is smart enough to adopt nearby Maungakiekie ward MP Phil Goff's opposition to the flagrant lack of consideration shown by the airlines screeching over the area. Therei s a great deal of anger and frustration with the O'Connor Clone, Paul Forget-the-name and Sam Lota Nothing who simply follow Brownlee's line of pretending the problem isn't the government's....and specifically the CAA's.
This has really put a jingle of jewelry into the election. Go Christine, go.

This shows the political naivety of the Conservatives. A better move would be to stand in a seat where National could and no doubt would discreetly assist them to win, just as Labour is doing to help Harawera beat their own Labour candidate. Conservatives are ensuring they will be left out in the cold with such a silly move.

I don't think the people of Epsom will be much interested in a lippy cocktail waitress being their MP.

A despicable move by Colin Craig and his fruitloops. If this delivers a left wing government there will be hell to pay for the Conservatives in the following election.

I don't think it will make a difference. If it has any effect at all it is likely to put the electorate back firmly into National's hands. Given how poorly ACT is polling this election they are not going to deliver any additional MPs under the coat tailing rules, so whether Act wins Epsom or National does, the effect for National is the same.

If National win Epsom, they lose the election. Simple maths. National will have the same number of seats, based on their nationwide party vote, with or without Epsom. If ACT wins Epsom that is another centre right seat to support National in parliament.

Epsom Voters can do Maths
Vote Seymore get 1 or 2 MPs to support a National govt
Vote Rankin get 4 or 5 MPs to support a National led Government

My response was to David B's suggestion that it doesn't matter whether ACT or National wins Epsom. Your comment relates to ACT or the Conservatives wining Epsom - a different issue. ACT will support National. The Conservatives won't, unless Craig is lying about binding referenda being his bottom line.

Unfortunately, Lindsay, there is nothing to indicate that Colin Craig is lying about his fanatical support for binding citizens referenda. He's a religious social conservative and they want to run endless potty plebiscites trying to turn back the clock when it comes to marriage equality, abortion rights ad nauseum. It's an obsession and article of faith with them.

Or more likely, vote Rankin to get Cunliffe for P.M.

People who have attended the lectures for common sense and self awareness will not find this as too much of challenge to ensure that the right leaning get together and ensure the those that failed to attend the lectures are left on the scrap heap where they belong.

The entire country has their faith in the voters of Epsom to do the right thing...let's hope it's justified...

It always is and always was for the people of Epson to make their own decisions.

Most probably in the end they will want a National government and so have to decide how that happens and they have a choice.

If they collectively decide to split their vote then that is the decision they make and will get whatever the result. I do not think these people are stupid, nor do I expect that they don't know their own minds.

Another rumour doing the rounds is that Kim Dotcom's is making Kelvin Davis a job offer for a salary he can't refuse, on the condition he delays his announcement until the morning of 26 August (i.e. too late for Labour to replace him).

Wouldn't that nail down the Internet/Mana spot on the Left?

Look, I don't think Christine Rankin moves the needle very much anymore. That's why she signed up to the Conservatives, because no other centre-right party was interested in her. She's trading off a reputation of standing up to Labour 14 years ago - it's all a bit sad really.

People of Epsom...the choice is clear John Key or David Cunliffe? your duty.

Well put and exactly right.

Unfortunately for Ms Rankin, I don't think she'll get anywhere. She belongs to a religious social conservative party and Epsom is an urban liberal constituency, whether a National or ACT MP represents it. I don't see her siphoning off too many votes from Seymour or Goldsmith.

Rankin is a successful and seasoned campaigner, and already holds a local body position - her name recognition is a lightning rod for Epsom voters.

Bye Bye Act - wishful thinking, GAYNZ.COM Red Queen (Craig Young).

The only wishful thinking is yours. Rankin is not a successful or seasoned national political campaigner, and her name recognition in Epsom is low or none. Seymour is running his second electorate campaign (the first not in Epsom) and has already knocked on over 10,000 doors in Epsom to personally introduce himself to the voters. He is immensely more intelligent, and experienced in politics, than Rankin.

Who's Seymour?

He's the new MP for Epsom. Replacement for Banks who resigned. Welcome to NZ. Hope you enjoy it here.

Uh huh. Steve Taylor, the Conservative Party candidate who's already had to be reined in by his leader for making precipitate statements during an election campaign? Contributor to Family First's last "Forum on the Family?"

Excuse me, but Richard Worth and John Banks weren't good fits for what is essentially an urban liberal electorate. Rodney Hide was, however, which explains his longevity in that seat. However well-respected Rankin is, she's on a hiding to nowhere with her current ill-chosen microparty entourage.


If you know anything about outcome research regarding campaigning - Seymour's early efforts will have been in vain.

"Recency effect" will be his undoing - he has gone way, way too early in his door-knocking campaign - most people he has spoken to will have forgotten him by now.

Yes, Steve, and fundamentalist inability to engage in meaningful strategic management will be Colin Craigs and Christine Rankins. It's just over a month to the election and Rankin is selected as the Conservative candidate only now?! At least ACT planned their leadership changeover at the organisational and constituency levels well in advance of the Banks quagmire coming to fruition in the courts.

This might help split the center & right vote in Epsom, which will make the campaign and election more entertaining. Christine Rankin should pull out all stops.
However, I've always thought that Ms Rankin believes that rules don't apply to her. This goes as far back as when she was running single Social Welfare offices, not the whole show. If by some freak event she becomes an MP I'll predict a scandal-driven exit within a couple of years. Which would also be entertaining, though of no benefit to the country.

Clever move. This explains why Colin Craig was relaxed with East Coast Bays. His number one target was always Epsom. Had John Key made room in ECB then Rankin could have sat elsewhere. Now Key has to make 50/50 call between Act and Conservatives. Depends on Epsom early polling. Interesting.

Of course, adding to the mix is fellow anti- corruption 'Public Watchdog' Independent candidate for Epsom - Grace Haden (who actually LIVES in Epsom).

With the public spotlight on Epsom - the issue of corruption should get increasing political attention.

Which probably won't do National's PARTY vote much good - given the proven track record of many Cabinet Ministers?

Of course, former ACT leader & MP for Epsom, John Banks won't be helping ACT's chances as he refuses to accept personal responsibility for electoral fraud and continues legal proceedings at this rather critical electoral time?

Penny Bright

I think the question then is, Penny, *whether* Banks irretrievably tainted the ACT party brand through his prolonged judicial ordeal, or whether he disassociated himself from ACT through arranging for leadership transition to Messrs Whyte and Seymour, who postdate Banks' murky Auckland mayor campaign donation fund dealings. If the latter happens, then Seymour and Whyte will have saved the brand.

Amusing. Act should not be concerned at all. This is the Conservatives you're talking about. LOL. A joke.