Analysis: Just tattoo it on your forehead, Phil — it would be more subtle

Phil Goff has dropped his strongest hint yet that he will run for the Auckland mayoralty, saying he would run the city differently from the current "presidential" style of leadership.

"Only a tattoo on his forehead would have made things more obvious," responded blogger Jarrod Gilbert as I tweeted the news.

Jarrod's right. 

Mr Goff keeps dropping more and more hints he's about to run. Today Auckland also learned that, if he runs, he will run as an independent. That's a smart move given central government is funding (that is, making) all the serious decisions about transport and housing, and partisan labels are a non-starter.

Things are looking good for a Goff run. The incumbent Len Brown faced enough challenges (Bevan Chuang, accepting free hotel rooms from SkyCity during the convention centre controversy) before he pushed through the average 9.9% rates hike. And potential candidates on the right are dithering. One of the few ways Mr Goff could undermine his chances would be by dithering too. Phil, just run already.

Mr Goff was too dull to succeed as Labour leadership but his low-key, policy wonk nature is better suited to a local body race and a city where people will value getting problems solved over charisma. 

He has also proved pretty popular with locals (at the last election he won Mt Roskill by a huge margin, even though National walked away with the electorate's party vote).

Some will see him as too far left and others, with memories back to his days as the Douglas-ite who shepherded in student loans, will complain he's too far right. 

But overall, Aucklanders, like New Zealand as a whole, are a pretty apolitical lot. The most common rationale for voting out an incumbent is that they've got too arrogant and it's time for someone else to have a turn (and for "arrogant", I guess you could substitute "presidential"). If Mr Goff speaks in his usual measured, reassuring tone, and promises to work effectively with the Beehive, the supercity Big Chair could be his for the taking.

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