Tue, Jun 24, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Pan-blues mull Hualien entrant

BY-ELECTION The leaders of the KMT and PFP are expected to announce today who will be their joint candidate in the election for county commissioner in August

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

KMT Secretary-General Lin Fong-cheng (林豐正) yesterday met with his PFP counterpart Tsai Chung-hsiung (蔡鐘雄) to discuss who will represent the two parties in the Hualien County commissioner election in August.

Former Cabinet secretary-general Hsieh Shen-shan (謝深山) of the KMT has emerged as the favorite to get the nomination, although other pan-blue candidates have refused to rule out running independent campaigns if they are not chosen.

Hsieh, a senior KMT official and labor-union leader, led opinion polls conducted by the KMT.

"After discussing this matter extensively during our meeting, we'll reach a conclusion on who the KMT-PFP alliance wishes to jointly nominate," Lin said.

"We'll then report our conclusion to both KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) for them to make the final call," Lin said.

He said Lien and Soong would jointly announce their decision today.

The Hualien County commissioner by-election will be held on Aug. 2 to fill the post left vacant by KMT incumbent, Chang fu-hsiung (張福興), who died of lung cancer last month.

Although Hsieh is the favorite to get the nomination, some other party members have also expressed their strong intention to win the candidacy. They include former Hualien County commissioner Wu Kuo-tung (吳國棟) and Liu Chao-eh (劉詔娥), widow of the late commissioner Chang. PFP Legislator Fu Kun-chi (傅崑萁) has also expressed a desire to run.

Although Lin was confident his party could persuade other candidates to step down after the nomination is announced, Wu said he was keeping his options open.

"Even though I would not be at all happy if the party skips over me to nominate others, I can't do anything about it," Wu said.

He said last night that KMT headquarters had not informed him of any conclusions they may have reached.

When asked whether he would resign his KMT membership to run his own campaign if the party did not nominate him, Wu said, "I have yet to consider such an option, though chances are that such scenario might evolve."

Hualien County is considered a pan-blue stronghold, but if Wu insists on running he could divide the pan-blue vote.

Liu, who claimed that Lien had once encouraged her to succeed her husband, has said that she would nonetheless respect the party headquarters' decision if she was not nominated. She was unavailable for comment last night.

After the failure of the parties' joint candidate in the Kaohsiung mayoral race in December last year, August's by-election is seen as a crucial test of their ability to cooperate in elections ahead of the presidential vote in March next year.

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