The Greens have selected Rebekah Jaung as their candidate for the Northcote by-election.
Is it worth it?
The last by-election in Mt Albert in 2017 had Julie Anne Genter run against Jacinda. I argued at the time that it was a stupid move because it risked splitting the vote and allowing National through the middle. I suggested that if that happened, Labour would blame the Greens for damaging one of their rising stars. In the end a worse result for the Greens eventuated, not only did Jacinda romp home, but it surprisingly highlighted that the Greens were actually far weaker than many had believed.
Being strong and hurting Labour was one thing, but stepping up and being found politically impotent was a far worse outcome.
This weakness became reality when the Greens plummeted to an embarrassing 6% on election night, their 3rd consecutive drop in support in 3 elections.
The Greens have argued that running in this by-election is good because it will allow the Greens to generate profile and maintain a strong identity. That’s a pretty far fetched hope rather than strategic mater stroke. No one is going to remember the Greens ran anyone in Northcote come the 2020 election, and unless Rebekah Jaung intends to take a markedly different agenda to the people of Northcote, this candidacy will only serve to ensure Labour can’t win.
When you consider how cash strapped the Greens are, this is an expensive punt.
Northcote matters because it will be seen as a bell weather verdict on Simon Bridges leadership and Jacinda’s.
The Greens are sick of being seen as a puppet for Labour and are desperate to show some independence, but was this by-election the best way to do that?
Good luck to Rebekah, but it’s difficult to see what winning looks like in this scenario.