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GNP may not seek to bring Lee in

Na expected to announce bid around Thursday; DP starts nomination race


The ruling Grand National Party is racking its brain over who would be its best shot at the forthcoming Seoul mayoral by-election, after a lawyer it wooed as its candidate against a powerful opposition contender turned out not so popular among voters.

Several polls show that Lee Seog-yeon is lagging in popularity well behind Park Won-soon, a lawyer-turned activist emerging as the unified candidate of liberal opposition groups.

Lee even trailed Na Kyung-won, a female GNP lawmaker who lost last May to then-incumbent mayor Oh Se-hoon in the party’s primary race.

In one of such polls that came out Monday, Lee garnered 18.7 percent of support, about half of Na’s 37 percent.

Park outstripped both at 45.8 percent. A former minister of government legislation, Lee said Friday that he was asked by the GNP to run for Seoul mayor and that he was considering a bid if he was chosen as the unified candidate representing conservative forces.

Lee was among the non-partisan prospects eyed by GNP leaders as their “counter-weapon” against Park.

The low poll results, however, appeared to have dampened the party’s enthusiasm for Lee.

GNP leaders told Lee that he would have to join the party in order to win the party’s backing in the election, otherwise they would field their own candidate. Lee has said earlier that he would not seek party affiliation to run for the mayor.

“I will make my position clear in the coming days, after consulting with civic groups which support me as the mayoral candidate,” he said on a radio program Monday.

While expressing his “disillusion about fickle politicians,” Lee said he was confident that public approval ratings will upturn once the public get to know his credentials and past works.

Still, GNP members are looking anew at Na, a former judge and second term lawmaker who they once thought was not strong enough to counter opposition candidate Park.

It is expected that Na would announce her bid for the capital’s mayoral office around Thursday.

The main opposition Democratic Party has already started the official race for the party’s mayoral nomination, with four contenders. They are Reps. Chun Jung-bae, Park Young-sun, Choo Mi-ae and former Rep. Shin Geh-ryoon.

Whoever wins will go through another round of competition to become the unified candidate of all progressive groups, where he or she is likely to face Park Won-soon.

Park on Friday registered his preliminary candidacy for the mayoral by-election with the election watchdog as an independent candidate.

Seoul citizens will go to the polls on Oct. 26 to fill the mayoral seat vacated by Oh.

By Lee Sun-young (milaya@heraldcorp.com)
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