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Thu, Feb 08, 2001 - Page 4 News List

Chang quits DPP primary race

TAICHUNG MAYORAL RACE After trailing in the polls, incumbent Chang Wen-ying withdrew from DPP primaries but was elusive on whether she'd run as an independent

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taichung Mayor Chang Wen-ying (張溫鷹) dropped out of the DPP's primary for its candidate for Taichung mayor yesterday, giving the opportunity to run on the DPP ticket to another party hopeful, Michael Tsai (蔡明憲).

The mayoral election takes place in December.

Tsai, currently a legislator, beat Chang in polls released on Tuesday by 27.7 points. The results suggested that Chang stood little chance to be nominated unless she won all the votes of the party's members -- accounting for 30 points -- to match Tsai at the primary's second stage.

Expressing her congratulations to Tsai, Chang refused to comment on Tuesday on whether she would run as an independent candidate.

"There is a 50-50 chance that she will run as an independent, but if she doesn't run, party supporters will respect her for helping keep the party unified," said Ho Min-hao (何敏豪), former director of DPP's department of organizational development.

Like many others, Ho attributed Chang's failure to her husband, Chen Wen-hsien (陳文憲), who is also the committee chairman of the DPP's Taichung division. Chen's behind-the-scenes manipulation of politics in Taichung has earned him the nickname of "the underground mayor."

"He has caused significant trouble for Chang and therefore has sabotaged Chang's publicity and official achievements," Ho added.

Chen himself has announced he will quit his post in June to stand in line with Chang. But many have speculated that the moves by Chang and Chen were signs of conflict that would make it difficult for Tsai to win over Chang's DPP supporters.

Former DPP legislator Liu Wen-ching (劉文慶), however, said Chang's performance for the past three years was another reason contributing to her failure.

"The escalating tension between the Taichung City government and Council, and her inability to map out a vision for the city, has ruined her credibility," Liu said.

Ho said the race in Taichung will be a tough fight for the DPP since the KMT's Jason Hu (胡志強), a former foreign minister, was also slated to run.

"If it is only Tsai and Hu competing for the position, Tsai will be disadvantaged. But I am sure that the People First Party will present their candidate eventually, and then Tsai may stand a better chance to win," Ho said, referring to speculation that the KMT and the People First Party will split the vote.

Liu said he does not believe Hu's high profile will boost his support significantly.

"Taichung citizens prefer a candidate who is close to them, which Hu has no chance of becoming in such a short time," Liu said, adding that he believes the PFP's candidates would be former minister of justice Liao Cheng-hao (廖正豪) and PFP Chairman James Soong's (宋楚瑜) wife, Chen Wan-shui (陳萬水).

Ho also said that Tsai should be able to secure approximately 110,000 votes from the DPP's traditional supporters in Taichung if he successfully coordinates all of the factions within the party.

Compared to Chang's approximately 179,000 votes gained during the previous election, however, Liu said he believes that Tsai faces great challenges ahead in what he says will be a very competitive campaign.

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