Green Party candidate Susanne Ruthven resigns from Hutt South race
The Green Party has lost its third person in two days, with Susanne Ruthven, candidate for Hutt South, announcing she's withdrawing from the candidacy at a debate on Tuesday night.
It comes just a day after two Green MPs, Kennedy Graham and David Clendon, stepped down in protest after co-leader Metiria Turei's admission of benefit fraud.
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But unlike Mr Graham and Mr Clendon, Ms Ruthven isn't standing down due to the controversy surrounding Ms Turei. Instead, it's because she's gotten a new job and wants to avoid a conflict of interest.
"I've accepted a new job as chief legal advisor for the Ministry for Pacific Peoples," she told Newshub after the meeting.
"I've [stepped down as candidate] so I can prioritise some of the work that I want to get done for the Ministry, which I value and think is important."
Ms Ruthven also resigned from the party's list, but has not resigned her party membership. It's not known who, if anyone, will replace her in the race for Hutt South.
The MP for Hutt South is currently Labour's Trevor Mallard, who isn't contesting the electorate at the next election.
Mr Mallard confirmed to Newshub Ms Ruthven was stepping down but said he "couldn't shed much light on it".
With Labour's candidate now Ginny Andersen, it's prompted speculation Labour and the Greens may have done a "dirty deal", with Ms Ruthven stepping down to make the battle for the electorate easier for Ms Andersen.
But Ms Ruthven says that's not the case.
"I actually just got back from Europe in the weekend and started this job on Monday - it was solely around me, and not around Labour or anything else," she said.
She said she's still "catching up" on the controversy around Ms Turei and the two other other MPs resigning, but says she supports Ms Turei.
Mr Mallard won the 2014 election over National by a slim majority of 700 votes. The Greens garned around 3000 votes in that election.
It's not yet known whether the Greens are planning to replace Ms Ruthven; however, those at the meeting say Ms Andersen's campaign team were "elated" at the news.