22 May 2009

Lee backtracks over by-election

10:06 pm on 22 May 2009

National's Melissa Lee now says she wants to win the Mt Albert by-election, despite admitting earlier on Friday that she expects to come second.

On Friday morning, Ms Lee committed one of the worst errors a politician can make - admitting defeat - telling Morning Report she probably will not win the by-election in June.

The list MP has since backtracked on the politically damaging statement, saying she is in the campaign to win.

She says she has been out campaigning fulltime and has had huge support from the Mt Albert electorate.

Ms Lee has been struggling with fallout from earlier comments that the proposed Waterview motorway would stop criminals from South Auckland going to Mt Albert. She was branded a racist over her comments, and has since apologised.

On Thursday, Ms Lee was cleared of allegations regarding her use of New Zealand on Air funding during the 2008 general election.

The organisation found no evidence that Ms Lee's television production company, which makes the series Asia Downunder, used money to make a campaign video for the National Party.

Lee realistic, say rivals

Political opponents of Ms Lee's say her comments regarding the outcome of the by-election are realistic.

Green Party candidate Russel Norman says Ms Lee has thrown in the towel, while ACT candidate John Boscawen says he is now the only choice for centre-right voters.

Labour Party candidate David Shearer says he is focusing on his campaign.

The by-election will be held on 13 June to fill the seat vacated by former Labour prime minister Helen Clark.

The Mt Albert electorate has been held by Labour since its formation in 1946.