The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) aims to win at least three special municipality mayoral elections and retain all of its incumbent positions in the nine-in-one elections next year.
The KMT’s overall strategy is to retain incumbents in Miaoli, Nantou and Lienchiang counties, elect a successor to New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) and to retake Taipei and one other special municipality, party sources said.
The mayoral elections for Taipei and New Taipei City are “of the highest priority” to the KMT and its goal is to win at least three mayoral elections in the nation’s six special municipalities, sources said.
The KMT is likely to finish nominating candidates for the county commissioner elections in Miaoli, Nantou and Lienchiang counties, as KMT incumbents there are expected to run for re-election, before deciding on candidates for other places, sources said.
The nomination process should be completed later this month or next month, they added.
The KMT believes that internal Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) disputes and low approval rates have rendered the DPP incumbents in Yilan, Changhua, Yunlin and Penghu counties and Chiayi City vulnerable, sources said.
Candidates for those elections are to be nominated immediately after the ones for Miaoli, Nantou and Lienchiang counties, they said.
Because the DPP’s partnership with independent Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) is volatile, the KMT might hold off fielding a candidate in that race until it knows who the opponent will be, party sources said.
The party’s shortlist of candidates for the Taipei mayoral election include KMT Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安), former minister of the interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) and former premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺), they said.
Because Chu has reached the two-term limit, the KMT favors New Taipei City Deputy Mayor Hou Yo-yi (侯友宜) to be his successor, the sources said.
However, former Taipei County commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) has been making waves and might contest Hou for the candidacy, they added.
This would mean that the KMT would need to capture an additional mayoral office from the DPP — in Taichung or Taoyuan — in addition to bagging Taipei and keeping a KMT mayor in New Taipei City.
In Taichung, the KMT might be able to field a candidate without holding a primary election, as both hopefuls — KMT lawmakers Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) and Lu Hsiu-yen (盧秀燕) — have expressed willingness to support the party’s choice.
Neither Johnny Chiang nor Lu have officially committed to campaign, making it more likely that a negotiated and uncontested candidate will materialize.
KMT Legislator John Wu (吳志揚) is rumored to be the most likely KMT candidate for Taoyuan’s mayoral election, although KMT Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖) is also a possible nominee, sources said.
The pan-green camp stronghold of Tainan has no shortage of DPP hopefuls for its mayoral election, but the KMT field is empty at the moment.
Party sources speculate that the KMT might seek an alliance with Chen Tzu-ching (陳子敬), a former police commissioner who ran as an independent for Tainan mayor in 2014.
In Kaohsiung, the KMT might draft former Taipei Agricultural Products Marketing Corp (台北農產公司) general manager Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) to be its mayoral candidate for what will be a difficult campaign, sources said.
Han was recently elected as the director of the KMT’s Kaohsiung branch office.
When asked for comment, KMT Organization and Development Department director-general Lee Che-hua (李哲華) said that the party would try to keep incumbent positions before expanding into challenging races.
“It is hard to tell who has the upper hand until the cards are down and we give our level best,” he said.
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