CHANGWON (Yonhap) ― The former chief of the conservative ruling party made a comeback to the political scene by clinching a landslide victory in a by-election for the governor of South Gyeongsang Province, the state election watchdog said Thursday.
Hong Joon-pyo of the ruling Saenuri Party received 62.9 percent, or 1.1 million votes, followed by Kwon Young-gil, a liberal-leaning candidate with no party affiliation, with 26.8 percent, the National Election Commission said after the vote counting ended Thursday morning.
“I will not forget the people who encouraged me and held my hands in markets, streets and public squares despite the cold weather,” Hong said in an acceptance speech. “I will devote my everything to re-establish strife-torn provincial affairs and open a new era.”
The governor post has been vacant after former governor Kim Doo-gwan left in July to run for president. Kim of the main opposition Democratic United Party, however, failed to win the party’s presidential nomination.
The 58-year-old Hong vowed to crack down on corruption and establish a task force team to develop the local economy by bringing in a flurry of new investment, including a new airport project and a nano-tech industrial complex.
He also vowed to set up a team of professionals on the economy and budget to effectively work with the central government.
Born in the southeastern city of Changnyeong, the prosecutor-turned-lawmaker lost the April general election for a Seoul electorate, which came as a surprise as the big name had won four consecutive races in the capital city.
Hong was elected the chief of the then ruling Grand National Party in July of last year, but he was forced to step down from the post with mounting pressure from party members to reshape the beleaguered party following a series of scandals and a Seoul mayoral election defeat.