Leading National Party figures in Auckland are trying to downplay what appears to be a large splintering apart of the centre right campaign to win control of the Council.
But behind the scenes there is talk that the Auckland Future campaign is not winning the support it had hoped for when it was launched last year.
the issue has come to a head with news that National Party President Peter Goodfellow’s wife is not standing for Auckland Future but instead for another small centre right group, Communities and Ratepayers.
That association is the successor to the Communities and Ratepayers’ Association, a centre right grouping which stood candidates for the Auckland City Council.
Meanwhile Auckland Future, which counts Ministers Paul Goldsmith, Nicky Kaye and former party presidents Sue Wood and Michelle Boag among its inner circle is also standing candidates.
Auckland Future’s intention was to form a cohesive disciplined centre-right block on the Council.
It also is closely linked to Mayoral candidate, Victoria Crone.
But Ms Wood said Auckland Future would not be running a candidate in the Orakei ward against Ms Simpson and intended to work closely with her if she was elected.
POLITIK has been told of one other centre-right high high profile candidate who may also stand for Communities and Ratepayers.
Ms Simpson told POLITIK that her fellow Orakei Community Board members wanted to stand under the C&R banner and she wanted to stand with them because of the long association C&R had had with Orakei.
As far as Auckland Future was concerned she said “it’s not as though it’s us against them, certainly from my perspective.”
And she says she will work with Auckland Future if (or more probably in her case, when) she is elected to the Council.
But a close associate of Ms Simpson, Mark Thomas, a former National candidate and electorate chair, is standing for Mayor but not under the Auckland Future banner.
Auckland Future did not select him as their Mayoral candidate and that may have influenced both him and Ms Simpson not to join the new organisation.
But some sources have suggested to POLITIK that there is also a feeling among some on the centre-right in Auckland that Auckland Future has not fulfilled its earlier promise.
Some of that is a concern that the Auckland Future Mayoral candidate, Victoria Crone, has so far made little impact with a recent poll showing her well behind the Labour MP Phil Goff.
Over and above the Communities and Ratepayers and Auckland Future candidates at least two centre right candidates are standing as independents.
They are sitting councillor, Dick Quax, and Bill Ralston who is contesting the Waitemata ward.
There is one other centre right Mayoral candidate, John Palino who has tapped into policy research that has been conducted by Larry Mitchell, father of National MP Mark Mitchell.
The Auckland Future group had originally proposed campaigning under the National Party banner but that move was rebuffed by both the party’s caucus and its national board which is chaired by Mr Goodfellow.
The resulting fragmentation of the centre right before the election has even taken place raises questions about how effective the centre right will be in forming what would effectively be a Caucus on the Council itself.