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Saenuri Party`s Seoul mayor candidates heat up for a battle
MARCH 20, 2014 02:24  
The Saenuri Party`s primary to select its Seoul mayor candidate has been provisionally decided to be held on April 30. Battle among candidate camps are heating up to win the ticket to run for Seoul mayor. Though at an early stage, Rep Chung Mong-joon, who is leading the opinion polls, and former Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik, who gained attention with disputes that he got President Park Geun-hye`s support, are engaged in a psychological warfare. Party supreme council member Lee Hye-hoon who is backed with huge support of party members is also confident of running for election.

○ Chung preempts with development pledges

Chung has been expressing dissatisfaction with the process of selecting the Saenuri Party뭩 Seoul mayoral candidate from the outset. Via comments by his camp`s spokesman, he said, "Kim should speak for the truth on the speculation that Presidential Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon intervened in the candidate election." Chung didn`t attend the party`s supreme council meeting nor the joint meeting with senior party members. Given that he had previously shown full attendance at the meetings, his absence can be interpreted as a protest.

Chung says he has preempted the election agenda through re-promotion of Yongsan international business zone development. He claims he has succeeded in emphasizing image of a dynamic economic mayor. Chung`s camp said, "Though there are disputes on whether the Yongsan redevelopment plan will be carried out, voters consider Chung as a candidate who can develop Seoul that has been suspended since main opposition Democratic Party member Park Won-soon took office as Seoul mayor for the second time," adding, "We will announce other detailed pledges soon."

Chung believes he has got a winning streak over Kim Hwang-sik. Candidate election will take "one-shot" voting instead of a tour voting. Chung`s camp said, "We are conducting closed discussion sessions with experts in various sectors for a sweeping victory at the TV debate, which is the final round before election."

○ Kim gains awareness via disputes he got President Park`s preference

Latecomer Kim sparked disputes of having received President Park`s preferential treatment Tuesday by saying that he discussed various matters with Presidential Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon. Let alone the issue whether such remarks were proper to make, Kim`s camp thinks it has raised awareness of Kim. Another effect was that he made his getting preferential treatment from President Park a "fait accompli."

A source at the former prime minister`s camp said, "Many ordinary voters and party members are not aware of former Prime Minister Kim," adding, "His weakest point was the far less awareness compared to Chung, but through the latest disputes, Kim was able to catch up with Chung."

Kim met reporters Wednesday at a brunch meeting and broadened his awareness. "I am deeply worried that unnecessary disputes within the Saenuri Party could continue due to controversy over something that lacks substance, which could disappoint the public," adding, "I have never worked by being subject to someone in governments. I`m no man of someone. I`m just an ordinary Korean."

Kim aims to raise support rate until early next month to narrow gap with Chung, and plans to reverse the trend through the TV debate. Former Saenuri lawmaker Lee Sung-hyun who oversees Kim`s camp said, "Only four days have passed since declaration to run, and support rate is steadily rising."

○ Lee confident on TV debate

With relatively lower awareness, Lee has demanded tour election and more debate sessions so that her policies can be known better. But as the party decided to elect a candidate through a one-shot method, she expressed disappointment.

Lee is confident that she can emphasize her strong points through TV debate. She also takes pride in strong support by party members. Lee was twice elected as parliament member at Seocho-gab, and served as vice committee chair at the 2012 presidential election for Park Geun-hye. Putting forth such qualities, Lee sees a chance to reverse the trend.

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