Former Taipei mayor and current KMT vice-chair Hau Lung-bin wants to run for the legislator. That means it’s time to play everyone’s favorite game: Find a Suitable District!
Most of the districts are already taken, so Hau has to choose from whatever is left. He is apparently looking for a somewhat difficult but winnable district so that he can claim to have done a great service for the KMT. Such a victory might catapult him into the next stage of his career, whether that is as LY speaker, KMT chair, or 2020 presidential candidate. He originally said he would go to the south, but not he has said that he won’t necessarily do that. He claims to want a district where the KMT has about 40-45%. Actually, those districts aren’t winnable. What he really wants (and what he seems to be looking at) is a district where the KMT has about 47%. So, what are his choices?
Chiayi City. (2012 Ma: 46.3%). Chiayi City is almost exactly what Hau is looking for. It is deep in the heart of the south, yet it is urban and has a fairly strong core of KMT votes. Former VP Siew famously proved his electoral mettle in Chiayi City in 1995, a victory that propelled him toward the premiership and vice-presidency. There is but one problem. Fellow KMT vice chair Huang Min-hui 黃敏惠 is from Chiayi City. Since the KMT is asking its top leaders to run, she is almost certain to get the nod here.
Tainan 4. (2012 Ma: 46.4%). Since the KMT has already finalized its nominations in the winnable parts of Kaohsiung, this is the only other plausible district for Hau in the south. Tainan’s East District is the home of National Chengkung University and all the deep blue voters associated with it. This is the block of voters that gave the PFP a seat in 2004, and Ma actually broke 50% in this district in 2008. However, there is again the problem that this district might not be open. Su Chun-bin 蘇俊賓 ran very well here four years ago, and the presumption was that he would run again. In order for Hau to run, he needs to find another district for Su. The media rumors were that Su would go to Keelung, but there are problems with that as well (see below). Moreover, this district might not be as promising as it appears. The south has been trending greener and greener over the past few years, and half of this district (the South District) is not fertile ground for a candidate like Hau. Also, Su ran well last time in part because the DPP nominated a tired and not terribly popular candidate, former mayor Hsu Tain-tsair 許添財. They have a bright fresh face this year in Lin Chun-hsien 林俊憲, and he should be a stronger candidate.
Keelung. (2012 Ma: 59.3%). Sure, the DPP just won the mayoral race, but look at Ma’s vote. Keelung is supposed to be a blue city. Winning it wouldn’t really raise Hau’s status very much. Also, Keelung already has a bunch of local people lined up fighting for the nomination. Last year’s debacle occurred in part because the KMT tried to parachute in a candidate from the central government and ignored the local people. I think they might yield for Hau, but they might not yield to Su Chun-pin.
Taipei 2. (2012 Ma: 47.3%). I think this is a real possibility. Everyone thinks this is a solid DPP seat, but it actually isn’t overwhelmingly green. Hau wants to get out of Taipei and raise his national profile, but he might be steered back to Taipei by party forces desperate to win seats. As I understand it, the local candidate in line for the nomination is former city councilor Chen Yu-mei 陳玉梅. She is a good candidate with deep roots in Datong. However, most of the voters in this district are in Shilin. Hau would probably be an upgrade.
New Taipei 2 and 3. (2012 Ma: 45.9% and 46.0%). I don’t think these are good targets for Hau. These two districts (Sanchong and Luzhou) are mostly working class, with lower education levels, and with very few mainlanders. Lin Shu-fen 林淑芬 is a very popular incumbent in New Taipei 2, and it is highly unlikely Hau could beat her. Kao Chih-peng 高志鵬 might be a bit more vulnerable in New Taipei 3, but I think Hau should probably look elsewhere.
Taichung 7. (2012 Ma: 50.7%). Ho Hsin-chun 何欣純 is the DPP incumbent in this district (Taiping and Dali), which has seemingly taken a sharp turn toward the DPP in the past few years. This district is fairly similar to New Taipei 2 and 3. Much of it is hastily overbuilt neighborhoods for working class people priced out of the more desirable Taichung neighborhoods. Again, Hau should probably pass on this one.
Taichung 6. (2012 Ma: 51.7). Ah, here it is. This district is downtown Taichung. Lin Chia-lung 林佳龍 won it in 2012, and Huang Kuo-shu 黃國書 won the by-election earlier this year. People are starting to think of this as a green district. Still, it has a solid base of KMT voters, and it has lots of neighborhoods with the more upscale voters that Hau can appeal to. I haven’t heard of any KMT city councilors openly vying for the nomination, though I’m sure someone would be willing to take it. If Hau wants to run here, it is probably as open as any other desirable district. If I were Hau, my eyes would be focused squarely on Taichung 6.