“The situation does not allow me to ignore the political command to run for Incheon mayor for the success of the Park Geun-hye administration,” Yoo told Saenuri Party members in Gimpo, Gyeonggi Province, on Tuesday. Gimpo is Yoo’s constituency, where he has won three terms in the National Assembly.
|Saenuri Party officials process applications from potential candidates for the June 4 local elections at the party’s headquarters in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap)|
For the ruling party, Yoo accepting its call is a welcome solution to a difficult situation. With polls putting incumbent Incheon Mayor Song Young-gil of the DP in the lead, the ruling party has been searching for a candidate with sufficient clout, with even party chairman Rep. Hwang Woo-yea involved in the race.
Yoo is a career bureaucrat who served as the chief of Gimpo before and after the town was raised to city status in the 1990s.
He also boasts close ties with President Park Geun-hye, having served as a key aide at critical junctures in her political career. In 2005, Yoo was Park’s chief secretary as she headed the Grand National Party, and took on similar roles as she ran in the conservatives’ presidential primaries in 2007 and 2012. In the latest presidential election, Yoo held a key post in Park’s campaign and went on to work as the deputy chief of her presidential transition committee.
Yoo is only the last in a growing list of bigwig Saenuri Party members entering the party’s primaries to run for various local government offices, in an apparent effort to counter the Democratic Party-Ahn Cheol-soo merger.
On Sunday, seven-term lawmaker Rep. Chung Mong-joon announced that he would run for Seoul mayor, while Rep. Nam Kyung-pil is reported to have accepted the party’s call to enter the race for Gyeonggi Province governor.
“It can be seen that way,” Nam said when asked whether he has made up his mind to enter the local elections.
“All the lawmakers in attendance (at the Saenuri Party’s economic democratization forum) recommended that I run. The final decision will be announced tomorrow (Wednesday).”
From the opposition bloc, Gyeonggi Province education superintendent Kim Sang-gon entered the race for the province’s top post.
“(I) will establish a balanced political, economic and social order built on welfare, human rights and peace,” Kim said when announcing his plans. He added that the DP and Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo had “ignited a spark of hope” in the people by agreeing to form a new party.
As a progressive education superintendent, Kim has been asked by both the DP and Ahn to run for the Gyeonggi Province position as their candidate.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com)