Leo Molloy’s mayoral campaign continues to face turmoil

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Leo Molloy, candidate for mayor of Auckland (photo provided)

Leo Molloy’s communications manager, Kate Gourdie, and a well-connected social media agency are stepping down after the Auckland mayoral candidate decided to refocus his campaign.

The turbulence in the campaign for mayor of Leo Molloy does not subside. On the contrary, it intensifies.

Since his campaign committee chair June McCabe resigned a month ago, the former restaurateur has started and fought fires on multiple fronts.

Her swear-laden interview with comedian Guy Williams was undeniably funny, but her opponents seized on it as yet another example of behavior unbecoming of someone running for public office.

Molloy’s aggression, whether simulated or real, came up again during a debate organized by the Penrose Business Association. When heckled, Molloy threatened to slap the interjector.

Then there was the strange case of Molloy and Efeso Collins apparently owning each other’s domain name. A swap apparently solved this rather murky problem.

“Unacceptable behavior”

More recently, Molloy criticized the Auckland Taxpayers Alliance over an advertisement they placed in the New Zealand Herald claiming his policies made him ‘unapproachable’ as mayor.

And last week, a video of Molloy sitting alongside Destiny Church leaders Brian and Hannah Tamaki surfaced on Twitter. In it, Molloy criticized the lockdowns, suggested that Covid-19 is not as dangerous as the media has reported, and denounced the government’s responses to the pandemic.

Asked by Newshub, Molloy (who is vaccinated) said he had met Hannah Tamaki through the hospitality industry and strongly disagreed with her and her husband’s views on vaccinations and vaccinations. civil unrest.

Amid this chaos, losing his media director three months from the election can hardly be ideal for Molloy.

Gourdie, known in media circles for her outspokenness, gave only the briefest of explanations in a written statement to Newsroom.

“As Leo takes a new approach to media relations and communications, I think it’s a good time for someone else to step in and lead it so I can pursue other opportunities. I’m proud that together the team has delivered two very strong poll results for Leo which show that this race is up for grabs. I wish him the best for his campaign,” she said.

McCabe and Gourdie’s exit decisions likely revolved around risk management of their own careers.

McCabe, a professional business executive, was reportedly worried about how the bulk of the town viewed Molloy’s antics.

Gourdie might have feared that Molloy’s volatile interactions with reporters and the media would begin to impact the relationships she spent years nurturing.

leap of faith

His decision to work for Molloy was, in many ways, a leap of faith. Would Molloy listen to advice or just go his own way?

When Gourdie started working for Molloy in March, she told Newsroom her decision was based on her interest in “learning more about politics.” No doubt the chance to work alongside Molloy’s campaign manager, Matt McCarten, a highly experienced political operative, was an asset.

Asked about Gourdie’s departure, McCarten said Newsroom Molloy’s campaign was “refocused”.

“We only had contracts until July and we had always planned to review things at this stage. Everyone’s job is changing, including mine. Nobody gets kicked out and Kate could have renewed if she wanted to,” he said.

McCarten says Molloy’s inflammatory interview with Williams was instrumental in the campaign’s decision to reevaluate its strategy.

exaggerated rant

What started as a bang on woke left politics ended in an over the top rant. Molloy’s constant swearing, grabbing of Williams and her own genitals, and an apparent obsession with finding out the age at which Williams lost her virginity left many viewers uneasy.

Molloy’s most vocal opponent, Wayne Brown, said the mayor of Auckland “should be a serious and dignified role, representing and leading our city on the national and global stage, and solving difficult and complex problems – Mr. Molloy is not cut out for the job.”

Brown suggested that Molloy needed “professional help”.

McCarten sees it differently.

“It caught everyone’s attention. The first part of a campaign is about name recognition and Leo is the most talked about candidate. In the last two polls, Leo came second (behind Efeso Collins) and he tied first in the first. He’s the candidate to beat Collins. The best Wayne has achieved is a bronze medal. We got attention, now it’s who can do the job, Efeso or Leo?” he said.

McCarten says a new poster campaign with the slogan, “Leo Molloy – the real deal”, will be rolled out shortly.

“Leo has that kind of confidence in Auckland, a bit of swagger. He’s a businessman, not a politician, he’s someone who can break the mould. He’s considered a diamond in the rough, but he has a heart of gold – that’s the real deal,” he said.

But McCarten acknowledges that Molloy’s lack of political skills can be a liability when it comes to getting his point across in interviews.

“A good politician will have three simple messages and will endeavor to convey them. Leo simply answers all questions put to him and sometimes fails to get his messages across. We need to work with Leo on how he communicates with a wider audience and managing media opportunities will be less of a priority,” he said.

Leo’s interesting choice

The Newsroom understands that with Gourdie gone, Molloy has hired former New Zealand Herald and Newsroom sports editor Steve Deane to help with his messaging.

Deane, whose most recent work has been in sports promotion and advertising, is an interesting choice for Molloy. Deane seems to have negative views of some center-right politicians his new employer looks to for support.

In a recent Twitter post, he described ACT executive David Seymour as a “tit.” In another article, he suggests that people may still support the Labor Party because they have “previously known a national government, thought about the (few) policies they tabled and heard Chris Luxon say a few words “.

McCarten says the plan is to speak more directly to Molloy supporters and will “fatten the digital and social media team.”

This might be a more difficult task than he had anticipated. After speaking with McCarten, Newsroom learned that a digital firm working on Molloy’s campaign also quit.

Jordan Williams, CEO of The Campaign Company, told Newsroom: “I can’t go into detail, but we have respectfully parted ways. We are no longer engaged but we wish her the best. Williams is also one of the founders of the Taxpayers’ Union, whose voice in Auckland is the Ratepayers’ Alliance, which has criticized Molloy on social media as well as in the Herald Advertisement.

Mark Jennings is co-founder and co-editor of Newsroom based in Auckland. The above article, which originally appeared on the Newsroom website, has been reproduced by special agreement.

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