Saenuri picks candidates to run in April by-elections

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Saenuri picks candidates to run in April by-elections

The Saenuri Party has decided its candidates for the next month’s by-election, fielding a former police chief to face the former presidential contender Ahn Cheol-soo to represent a working-class neighborhood in Seoul.

Huh Joon-young, 60-year-old former National Police Agency commissioner and former CEO of Korail, won the ruling party’s ticket to run in the Nowon C District of Seoul in the April 24 by-elections.

Kim Moo-sung, a political heavyweight and a key associate of President Park Geun-hye, was nominated as the party’s candidate in Yeongdo, Busan.

Former South Chungcheong Governor Lee One-koo will run to represent Buyeo-Cheongyang in South Chungcheong.

By-elections will take place at 11 electoral districts nationwide to fill vacancies in public offices, including the three National Assembly seats.

In Nowon C District of Seoul, Kim Ji-seon, wife of Roh Hoe-chan, the former lawmaker for the district who forfeited his seat after being convicted of revealing an illegally taped conversation, will also run against independent candidate Ahn and Saenuri candidate Huh.

Jeong Tae-heung of the Unified Progressive Party also declared his bid to run in the district.

If the liberal candidates remain in the race, Ahn and Huh will have a close match, a latest poll showed.

According to the Real Meter poll on Tuesday, Ahn would take 38.8 percent while Huh would receive 32.8 percent of the vote when the four candidates all stayed in the race. Kim polled at 8.4 percent and Jeong 6.1 percent, the survey showed.

If the liberals consolidate their candidacies and the election only includes Ahn and Huh, Ahn will likely win a major victory. In the simulated two-way race, Ahn won 51 percent while Huh won 37.9 percent.

The Democratic United Party said it won’t field a candidate in the name of “consolidation of liberals,” an apparent move to support Ahn.

In Yeongdo, Busan, Saenuri Party’s Kim has been the frontrunner. The DUP fielded Kim Bi-oh, a 44-year-old rookie who currently heads the party’s local chapter in the district.

The Unified Progressive Party fielded Min Byung-ryul, also head of its local chapter.

In Buyeo-Cheongyang of South Chungcheong, former governor Lee of Saenuri Party is a frontrunner. The opposition parties have not decided on their candidates to face him. The DUP said it will openly receive applications.


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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