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September 26, 2017

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Soong may soon announce his bid in Taipei mayor race

Chairman James Soong of the People First Party is expected to declare candidacy for mayor of Taipei soon as his popularity received a lift for his relentless drive to oust President Chen Shui-bian for incompetency and scams involving his family and senior aides, according to a PFP lawmaker close to Soong.

Commenting on a media reports that the PFP leader is ready to announce his decision to run for mayor of the capital city on July 20, Legislator Liu Wen-hsiung said yesterday that he is not sure about the exact date for Soong to formally make his candidacy known.

But he said the time "is almost ripe" for the official announcement since Soong has been sticking to his original plan and schedule for preparations.

Sources said that Soong has called on more than 440 "li chiefs" and held a series of meetings at all administrative districts in Taipei. As a local administrative unit, one "li" covers at least hundreds of households.

Soong already had his first batch of campaign literature printed to emphasize his relations with the city.

But the distribution of the material was withheld while public attention shifted to the motion of recalling President Chen.

The popularity rating for Soong has shown an upswing at the expense of Ma Ying-jeou, Kuomintang (KMT) chairman and leader of the opposition alliance.

A portion of the supporters of the opposition "pan-blue" alliance tipped over to Soong for his more aggressive crusade to unseat President Chen, according to the latest opinion polls.

Legislator Liu revealed that the PFP had planned to coordinate with the KMT for selecting one common candidate for the mayoral race in December. But the coordination was called off due to the misstep of the KMT in the campaign to unseat Chen, Liu said.

Chang Hsien-yao, another PFP lawmaker, said that Soong has not yet finalized the date to announce his candidacy.

But the PFP has worked out all contingency plans to cope with all possible situations following Soong's formal announcement, he said.

For the KMT, May and other party leaders already formally endorsed the candidacy of Hau Lung-pin, a former lawmaker, New Party chairman, and chief of the Environmental Protection Administration.

Hau won the KMT nomination after outperforming Legislator Ting Shou-chung in a party primary composed of a vote by party members in the city and public opinion surveys by different independent organizations.

Opinion polls show that Hau still maintains sizable lead over both Soong and ruling Democratic Progressive Party candidate Frank Hsieh, who formerly served as Taipei City councilman, lawmaker, Kaohsiung mayor and premier.

A persistent pursuit of Taipei mayor by Soong could split the opposition camp again and benefit Hsieh, unless the KMT and the PFP can reconcile differences in the next couple of months, according to some analysts.

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