Paul Eagle cleanses website and social media bios of references to failed mayoral campaign
Paul Eagle emerges from his failed mayoral campaign as a rejected lover, changing his social media accounts and refusing to speak to anyone but his closest confidants about what went wrong.
If you checked the Eagle official chains on Monday morning, you wouldn’t immediately know he had just run — and lost — a campaign. The Labour-backed candidate, who finished fourth in the race, had already cleaned his website and social media bios of any references to the ill-fated race.
Labor insiders were reluctant to participate in autopsies of the unsuccessful campaign, nor were they keen to speculate on the Rongotai MP’s future. One described the situation as “very delicate” and another said he did not want to “get involved just now”.
The man himself wasn’t speaking either – not responding to interview requests, not responding to multiple phone calls and text messages throughout the day.
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Two team members – one from Eagle’s campaign team and another who works in his election office – also died Thingsmeeting request.
Eagle instead seemed eager to reconnect with his Rongotai constituency, signing three social media posts in a 24-hour period with #rongotaiMP.
He posted a photo at a gymnasium in central Wellington on Monday morning. He also congratulated Chatham Islands Mayor Monique Croon on Sunday afternoon on her re-election (Rongotai constituency includes the Chathams).
Eagle has made no acknowledgment on social media of his loss – nor has he publicly congratulated Wellington’s new mayor, Tory Whanau. (Whanau said Monday night that Eagle congratulated her via text message and “supported her 100 percent.”)
He had taken a three-month break from parliament while campaigning to be mayor – pledging to donate his parliamentary salary during that period to charity – and is said to have forced a by-election of 1.2million dollars if he had succeeded.
Former Wellington councilor Fleur Fitzsimons is rumored to replace Eagle as the Labor candidate in Rongotai.
Fitzsimons declined to comment on Monday, referring questions to Labor Party general secretary Rob Salmond. “We are saddened that our endorsed candidate did not win the mayoralty of Wellington,” Salmond wrote in a statement.
“We will be supporting Paul Eagle and his team as Paul continues his work as Labor MP for Rongotai.”
Eagle’s candidacy began as Wellington’s worst-kept secret and was marred by controversy.
When Eagle spoke to Radio New Zealand on Sunday, he said he had tried to run a centrist campaign and blamed his failure on “everyone votes[ing] along party lines.
Political and academic commentator Morgan Godfery said Eagle made the mistake of “positioning himself as the continuity candidate” in an election where similar candidates were struggling.
“It probably speaks to a wider issue with his strategy, because we knew what Paul Eagle was against – he was against cycle lanes, he was against housing intensification. But it was less clear to Wellington residents – and probably people watching outside Wellington – what it was used for.
Eagle was aligned, in the minds of voters, with the policies of the “last 10 or 20 years,” Godfery said.
University of Auckland political scientist Dr Lara Greaves said Eagle was now in an “awkward position” because normally when candidates “with name recognition” entered a mayoral race, they were winning.
A source, who considers Eagle a friend, responded in disbelief when asked about his campaign. “What campaign? He didn’t deliver a campaign… I feel sorry for him, because he’s really fucked up. He just chose the wrong road.
Things wanted to ask Eagle how his campaign went so horribly wrong; how did he go from leader to fourth in the race?
Is the defeat at the town hall the beginning of the end of his days in Parliament? Does this mean the end of his political career?
When will he have a physical office where Rongotai voters can actually visit their MP in person?
Did he donate three months of his parliamentary salary to charity, as he promised?
Is there one thing, when he thought back to the countryside, that made him take the shape of a pear? Was it the media’s fault?
These questions will have to wait for another day.