Top echelons of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) are voicing their concerns regarding the Keelung mayoral race, where the party’s candidate trails the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) challenger by a wide margin in opinion polls.
New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) yesterday echoed the appeal made earlier by Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), urging the party to nominate someone to replace Huang Ching-tai (黃景泰), who holds the Keelung City Council speaker post, as the party’s candidate.
Hau has the party’s mandate to supervise the Keelung mayoral campaign and said he believes Huang is a liability because he is under investigation for influence-peddling in a number of construction projects.
Huang was released on NT$2 million (US$66,800) bail last month.
“The mayoral race in Keelung has undergone many changes because of Huang’s legal troubles and the opinion polls reflect this. This year-end election is very important for the KMT. We must not lose ground in any city or county. So we should select the best candidate that the public can identify with to give ourselves a winning chance in Keelung,” Hau said.
Opinion polls conducted by TVBS and the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) both showed that Huang trails DPP candidate Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) by 30 percentage points.
The party should consider dumping Huang in favor of another candidate, Chu said.
Chu said that while the KMT has made him responsible for helping with the election campaigns in Taoyuan County, Hsinchu City and Hsinchu County, he hopes the KMT will also win in Taipei, New Taipei City and Keelung — the three districts that make up the Greater Taipei area.
Huang said he would not back out.
“It is my goal to fight this race to the end. Where there is a will, there is a way,” Huang said.
He said that he respects commentary and polls on the city’s election, but fell short of answering whether he would stay in the race until the end, saying only that he would “turn grief into strength” and prove his innocence.
KMT spokesperson Charles Chen (陳以信) said that the party is facing a difficult fight in Keelung.
“However, our party will do everything to win this race. We will not let our supporters down,” Chen said.
Hsieh Li-kung (謝立功), recently appointed to the National Security Council from his previous post as director-general of the National Immigration Agency, denied a report that he might campaign in Keelung on behalf of the KMT.
He said in a statement that he has no plans to run for the office and that the KMT has not approached him about the possibility.
Additional reporting by Peng Hsien-chin and CNA