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June local elections will include some matches redux

Apr 06,2018
The opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) on Thursday named Kim Tae-ho as its candidate for South Gyeongsang governor, giving him an opportunity to reclaim a position he held from 2004 to 2010.

The main opposition party’s candidate will compete against Rep. Kim Kyoung-soo of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and it will be a return match: the two Kims ran against each other in the 2012 general election for a seat representing a district in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang.

The LKP’s Kim Tae-ho won with 52.1 percent of the votes, a margin of 4.21 percent over Kim Kyoung-soo.

A return match of political rivals will also take place in the mayor’s race in Busan, the country’s second largest city. The DP on Tuesday nominated Oh Keo-done, a former maritime minister, to challenge incumbent Suh Byung-soo of the LKP, which decided to put Suh on the ballot without a party primary for the June 13 local elections.

Oh and Suh ran against each other in the 2014 mayoral election. Suh narrowly defeated Oh with 51.1 percent of the votes, a margin of 1.31 percent, to win his first-term as Busan mayor.

The familiar faces indicate that the parties are having trouble finding fresh faces with potential.

For the ruling party, it may also show some complacency since President Moon Jae-in enjoys an approval rating that hovers around 70 percent, giving the party little need to make bold moves with untested figures.

The LKP’s difficulty in recruiting fresh faces largely stems from its low approval ratings, analysts say.

The LKP failed to find a fresh face for the Seoul mayoral race.

After repeated refusals from potential candidates, the conservative party turned to Kim Moon-soo, a former two-term Gyeonggi governor, who lost his last contest in 2016 for an assembly seat representing a district in Daegu, a longtime stronghold of the conservatives.

The Seoul mayoral race is filled with familiar faces.

From the ruling Democratic Party, two former floor leaders - Park Young-sun and Woo Sang-ho - have declared bids and incumbent Park Won-soon is expected to.

From the centrist Bareunmirae Party, former failed presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo declared his bid Wednesday. From the major opposition LKP, former Gyeonggi Gov. Kim Moon-soo is expected to declare a bid.

For the South Chungcheong governorship, which is vacant following An Hee-jung’s resignation amidst accusations of rape by two former female employees, the LKP turned to Rhee In-je, a former six-term lawmaker who holds a record for switching party memberships - 16 times in his political career.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]