The Gyeonggi Province gubernatorial race is becoming one of the hottest contests in the June 4 local elections with the ruling and opposition parties going to great lengths to bring their best cards into the game.
For the ruling Saenuri Party, five-term lawmaker Rep. Nam Kyung-pil is considered the favorite to fill the post currently held by potential conservative presidential hopeful Kim Moon-soo.
Nam Kyung-pil (Lee Gil-dong/The Korea Herald)
Announcing his plans, Nam did not mince words and launched a direct attack on the opposition bloc.
“Founding a new party is not new politics. It is only a repeat of old politics,” Nam said, saying that the Democratic Party and independent Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo’s plans to launch a new party was threatening to end new politics.
With Nam showing a significant lead over the leading opposition challenger in polls, the Saenuri Party went to some lengths to add the five-term lawmaker to the heavyweight-filled list of potential candidates.
Although Nam has been linked to the Gyeonggi Province election since the beginning of the year, it wasn’t until Tuesday that he officially accepted the party’s call.
In the Saenuri Party’s primary election for the Gyeonggi governor candidate Nam will run against Reps. Choung Byoung-gug, Won Yoo-chul and former lawmaker Kim Young-sun.
Both Choung and Won are four-term lawmakers with administrative experience.
Choung has served at the highest levels of government including as culture minister under the Lee Myung-bak administration, while Won was deputy governor of Gyeonggi Province.
Meanwhile, former Gyeonggi Province education superintendent Kim Sang-gon has risen as the most likely champion for the opposition bloc.
Kim Sang-gon (Yonhap)
Kim, who left his education post on Tuesday, will run as the candidate for the new party being built through the DP-Ahn merger.
Both the DP and Ahn are said to have attempted to bring Kim into their separate camps before the two sides agreed to form a new party.
Although Kim is considered a better bet than DP Reps. Won Hye-young and Kim Jin-pyo, who will compete against him for the candidacy, he has a ways to go to match Nam.
Recent polls have placed Kim as much as 13 percentage points behind Nam.
As such, Kim appears to be hoping for an expansion of the opposition alliance started off by the DP-Ahn merger.
“I think there needs to be negotiations within the opposition bloc to agree on a suitable way to form a coalition,” Kim said in a radio interview on Wednesday, referring to Rep. Sim Sang-jeung of the minor opposition Justice Party. Sim, who is serving her second term as a representative for Gyeonggi Province’s Goyang, is expected to run for the gubernatorial post.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com