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Mayoral campaign is set to cost less than NT$80 million: Ko

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Ko Wen-je, an independent candidate in the year-end Taipei mayoral race, said Sunday that his election campaign will cost less than his original estimate.

Speaking to members of a local reading club, Ko, a physician from National Taiwan University Hospital, said he originally estimated that he would spend at least NT$80 million (US$2.62 million) on the campaign, saying “now I believe I don't have to spend that much.”

Noting that he did not have campaign leaflets, campaign flags, banners, or campaign vans, nor had he taken out campaign advertisements or billboards, Ko said he had not even worn a suit during a televised public debate among would-be mayoral candidates.

“I don't follow traditional practices in soliciting voters,” said Ko, noting that this will save a lot of money. Further, he said he will tread a line which balances traditional practices with innovative campaign methods.

He added that his campaign staff complained that his unusual campaign made it difficult to work out a budget, “ I told them to use as much of the funds as we can raise,” said Ko.

Although he is not affiliated with any political party, Ko was supported by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which refrained from naming its own candidate in the capital city after Ko exceeded the party's best hopeful in opinion polls.

Ko admitted he was joking when he said that his entry into the race will force the ruling Kuomintang mayoral candidate to spend NT$20 billion more in the election.

What he meant, Ko said, is that northern Taiwan is the political stronghold of the KMT, and few DPP candidates could match their KMT counterparts in the cities and counties north of Miaoli. Yet his entry into the race in Taipei will heat up the competition and boost DPP candidates' chances of winning throughout northern Taiwan.

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