the Black Faction strikes

We are entering a critical period for the legislative races.  This is the crunch time for all the candidates, especially the third party and independent candidates, to decide once and for all whether they are in or out.  You never know if someone will actually run until registration closes on the last day.  However, a couple of candidates made fairly credible statements today.


Liu Wen-hsiung 劉文雄 announced that he will be running in Taoyuan 5.  I discussed this yesterday.


In Taichung 8, the Black Faction has thrown down the gauntlet.  Taichung 8 is the district centered on Fengyuan, and the DPP is fairly strong in this district.  In a straight one on one race, this district is probably dead even, or maybe there is a slight edge for the DPP.  The DPP candidate is a former legislator, Kuo Chun-ming 郭俊銘.  He’s a solid candidate, but he’s not unbeatable.  The point to remember is that, even without turmoil, this is a tough district for the blue camp.

Before this year, the KMT would have felt fairly comfortable about this district.  It was held by Hsu Chung-hsiung 徐中雄, who has been in the legislature since 1992.  Hsu is not really affiliated with either the Red or Black Faction, though he is somewhat closer to the Red Faction.  At any rate, 20 years of constituency service combined with a clean image made Hsu a formidable opponent.  However, Hsu resigned the seat earlier this year to take a position as Taichung City Vice-Mayor.  (The obvious implication is that he will run for mayor in 2014 when Jason Hu finally steps aside.)  The KMT chose not to nominate a local (read: corrupt) candidate.  Instead, they went for Chiang Chi-chen 江啟辰, who was serving as Director of the GIO.[1]  Chiang’s family is active in Taichung County politics, but he really isn’t wired in like most local politicians.  He is, however, a little closer to the Red Faction than the Black Faction.  Specifically, he has good connections with Liao Liao-yi 廖了以, who is now the KMT Secretary General but came up through the Red Faction.  Now, the hope for an outsider candidate like Chiang is always that the local factions will line up behind him, and the KMT will have both a clean image and a formidable ground game.  This doesn’t seem to be happening.

Today former Taichung County Assembly Member Che Shu-chuan 車淑娟 opened her campaign headquarters.  It’s always a challenge to tell which independent candidates are meaningful and which ones are turkeys.  Former county assembly members are usually turkeys,[2] but Che sent a very strong signal at her rally.  More precisely, the Black Faction sent a strong signal.  Che’s two guests of honor were former county executive Chen Geng-chin 陳庚金 and former legislator Chen Chieh-ju 陳傑儒, both Black Faction stalwarts.  I didn’t see any media reports of either speaking, but in the unwritten rules of Taiwanese politics, this was a very clear signal that the Black Faction is not supporting Chiang.  There is no way Che will come close to winning, but this is a signal that she intends to take 10000 votes or so from the blue pool, and that would almost certainly ensure a DPP victory.

Oh, and if that isn’t enough to sink the KMT’s ship, there is a PFP candidate running too.  Chen Ching-lung 陳清龍 won 13000 votes in the city council election last year as an independent, so he also has the potential to do major damage.

It’s getting hard to see a script in which Kuo Chun-ming isn’t celebrating on election night.

[1] Chiang is a political scientist, so you might think I have to root for him out of professional courtesy.  Wrong!  I root against all who insult my profession by descending into the sullied arena of actual politics.  Once a political scientist corrupts himself by becoming a politician, his brain seems to stop working.  We’ve lost a lot of outstanding members of our profession in this way.

[2] She won 11000 votes last year in her unsuccessful re-election bid to the city council.  That’s not encouraging for her, especially since she was running as a KMT nominee.


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