I’ve been delinquent in writing about the legislative nominations, but today we have some big news that I absolutely need to mention. Today the KMT announced that four incumbents did not pass the first round polls. The four are Chang Ching-chung 張慶忠 (New Taipei 8), Lu Chia-chen 盧嘉辰 (New Taipei 10), Lu Yu-ling 呂玉玲 (Taoyuan 5), and Tsai Chin-lung 蔡錦隆 (Taichung 4). In addition, Lu Hsueh-chang 呂學樟 (Hsinchu City) announced that he is forgoing his opportunity to win a quick nomination in the first round. This was not a generous gesture to his opponent. Rather, the polls indicated that Lu was losing. I don’t have any concrete numbers, but the stories I read seemed to indicate that Lu might be losing by a significant margin. That makes five KMT incumbents who are in serious trouble. At the very least, they will have to go to a second round. That means they will need to go through the full primary procedures, including paying a deposit, gathering signatures, and finally going through another round of decisive polls in a month or so. These five aren’t dead yet, but the red lights are flashing.
Remember, several other KMT incumbents have already declared that they are not running for re-election. This includes Alex Tsai 蔡正元 (Taipei 4), Lin Hung-chih 林鴻池 (New Taipei 6), Hsieh Kuo-liang 謝國樑 (Keelung), Hsu Chi-jung 徐志榮 (Miaoli 2), Chang Chia-chun 張嘉郡 (Yunlin 1), and Weng Chung-chun 翁重鈞 (Chiayi County 1). In addition, Hsinchu County incumbent Hsu Hsin-ying 徐欣瑩 withdrew from the KMT to found her own party. I think Weng and Chang might eventually be persuaded to represent the KMT in the south; they are probably holding out in an effort to get the KMT to reward them for carrying the party flag in what promise to be very difficult races. Still, that makes 12 incumbent KMT district legislators who might not be seeking re-election, and we aren’t even done with the first round of nominations. By my count, 23 have already been renominated, and no decisions have been made on another 12.
This is in marked contrast to the DPP’s incumbents. Of the 26 DPP district incumbents, only two, Hsu Tain-tsair 許添財 (Tainan 4) and Chen Tang-shan 陳唐山 (Tainan 5) retired. All 24 who registered for the primary won renomination, including all five who faced a primary challenge.
One interesting way – though probably the wrong way – to look at the KMT’s primary season is to think about the Sunflower Movement. Several of the KMT’s most prominent voices might not be in the legislature come February 2016. Alex Tsai and Lin Hung-chih are not running for re-election, while Chang Ching-chung and Lu Hsueh-chang are in serious trouble. (On the other hand, Wu Yu-sheng (New Taipei 1) and Alex Fai (Taipei 5) easily won re-nomination.) It is tempting to wonder if there is a relationship. My gut tells me that the backlash from the Sunflower period might play a role, but it is probably not the most important factor. Tsai has been saying he would not run for re-election for several years. Lin is rumored to be preparing to run in the by-election for New Taipei mayor when and if Eric Chu runs for president. I don’t know much about Lu Hsueh-chang’s primary opponent, other than that he is a city councilor. However, I do know something about the politician challenging Chang. Chiu Chui-yi 邱垂益 was mayor of Zhonghe City for nine years, and he has been the appointed district head for the past four years. Zhonghe factional politics are messy and largely familial. In the last two elections, Chang has beaten a cousin representing the DPP. The other families may finally have become fed up with Chang’s family monopolizing the legislative seat. Again, I wouldn’t be surprised if part of Chiu’s appeal is that he will be a better legislator and won’t do stupid things that might kick off a major student rebellion. However, Chiu is a powerful politician in his own right, and he could easily displace Chang.