After becoming the Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Michael was encouraged by the Prime Minister Tony Blair to stand for First Secretary in the Assembly.
As a result, many viewed him as a Millbank appointee in Wales whose candidature compromised the Welsh Assembly's independence from Westminster.
In the run up to the candidacy election, Alun Michael offered an olive branch to his rivals by suggesting they should stand as his deputies on a "team ticket".
The offer was rejected out of hand by Rhodri Morgan who made it clear that he was "not a jersey warmer for Alun Michael".
Despite enjoying widespread support from his local party and leading in the opinion polls, Rhodri Morgan was beaten to the inaugural position of First Secretary in the Labour party's electoral college.
Alun Michael was elected to lead the first Welsh Assembly.