Kim leads in race for the leadership of Saenuri

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Kim leads in race for the leadership of Saenuri

In a poll of 1,000 adults nationwide, Rep. Kim Moo-sung of the Saenuri Party is leading the race for party chairman with 42.6 percent support in advance of the July 14 party convention.

Trailing Kim is seven-term lawmaker Suh Chung-won, known for his unwavering loyalty to President Park Geun-hye, who is nicknamed the “eldest brother of the pro-Park faction,” with 32.1 percent.

The poll was conducted by researcher Realmeter from Wednesday and Thursday of last week to gauge who is most likely to run the country’s largest party, which commands the loyalty of 148 lawmakers.

Another contender Rhee In-je, a former presidential hopeful who holds the record for changing parties during his political career, 13 times in all, followed in third place with 23.8 percent. Coming in fourth and fifth were Hong Moon-jong, a three-term lawmaker also considered a pro-Park faction member with 12.9 percent and Kim Tae-ho with 12.8 percent.

On July 14, the Saenuri will choose its chairman and four leadership figures. Among Saenuri contenders, those with the most votes will be elected to run the party while the next four candidates will be appointed as leadership committee members. One spot is reserved for a woman candidate.

The party will select its leadership members by combining ballots cast by party members at a convention and by phone polling of the general public. Each voter at the convention will have two ballots to cast. The convention voting will comprise 70 percent of a candidate’s total score and the phone polling 30 percent.

Kim Moo-sung has been framing his competition with Suh as a contest between the past, represented by Suh, and the future, represented by himself. Kim has promised a bigger role for the party in governance and promised a more direct or even confrontational relationship with the Park Geun-hye Blue House. That is seen as a departure from the more passive approach taken by former Saenuri Chairman Hwang Woo-yea, who stepped down from his post last month.

Kim’s stance on changing the status quo in Blue House-Saenuri relations was reflected in his bid declaration speech early his month.

“I will bring about a governing party that will deliver the voices of the people without distortion to the Blue House,” he said. “The party will work as the eyes and ears of the [Park Geun-hye] government.”

Kim has deviated from loyalists to President Park since he openly objected to Park’s support for the special administrative city of Sejong during the Lee Myung-bak government.

Park, then a lawmaker of the Grand National Party, the precursor to the Saenuri Party, protested former President Lee’s plan to turn Sejong into a special business hub instead of making it the administrative city it finally became.

It’s expected that if Kim clinches the chairmanship, he will use it as a springboard to run in the 2017 presidential election. Known for strong leadership, Kim is presumed to be one of the presidential hopefuls from the governing party.

BY KIM KYUNG-HEE, KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]



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