Taichung Mayor Jason Hu Chih-chiang yesterday announced his bid to seek a fourth term, in a race seen by analysts as an uphill battle for Hu against strong competition from the opposition and voters eager for change.
"I can't leave the future of Grand Taichung to an uncertain, unsafe and unpredictable state because of my absence from the race, and this would make me an irresponsible person if I did so," Hu said at a news conference to declare his re-election bid.
Hu said he decided to seek a new term after contemplating the matter for several months, even though he admitted it would be "a lot easier if I simply turned my back" and choose not to run. He said he opted to run to keep Taichung in the fold of his Kuomintang party (KMT).
Hu still needs to win the KMT primary vote, where he will face challenges from at least two party veterans, before he can run in the Taichung election set for November 29.
If elected, Hu will become the longest-serving mayor of Taichung - for 17 years, over four terms, including the two when he was mayor before Taichung city and county merged to form a new municipality in 2010.
Under Taiwanese law, any elected government leader can only serve at most two four-year terms, but because Taichung became a new municipality, Hu was able to run for the first Taichung municipality posting four years ago. In 2010, Hu faced a much tougher battle compared with earlier campaigns following the inclusion of the bigger Taichung county, where support for his opponent, Su Jia-chyuan of the Democratic Progressive Party, was much stronger.
"In the 2010 race, Hu was only able to edge out Su by a mere 2.2 percentage points, and with more voters questioning his performance, including failure to improve law and order in Taichung and the building of the rapid transit system, Hu will face an uphill battle this time," said Hsu Yung-ming, an associate professor of political science at Soochow University.