By Joseph Yeh, The China Post
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Cheng Wen-tsan (�G����) yesterday clinched a surprising victory over incumbent magistrate John Wu (�d�Ӵ�) in Taoyuan, a northern county that is long considered a traditional KMT stronghold. By a narrow margin, Cheng won 51 percent against Wu’s 48 percent, securing victory by around 30,000 votes.
As the county is slated to become the nation’s sixth municipality in December, Cheng’s victory means he will become Taoyuan’s first mayor. Speaking at his campaign headquarters following the victory, Cheng thanked supporters and the assistance of all DPP members during the campaign. He expressed his wish to act with integrity during his upcoming tenure as Taoyuan mayor and promised to stay humble in carrying out his duties in the future.
Cheng’s victory came as a surprise as most local polls had shown that the incumbent magistrate Wu was enjoying a comfortable double-digit lead against his DPP rival before election day. Also, as a home to dozens of military bases with tens of thousands of military dependents, the northern county has long been regarded as a traditional KMT and pan-blue stronghold. Former Vice President Annette Lu of the DPP briefly served as Taoyuan magistrate from 1997 to 2000, but since 2001 the county chief position has been occupied by KMT members. This marks the second time the 47-year-old Cheng went head to head with the 45-year-old Wu for the Taoyuan chief seat. In 2009, the DPP hastily recruited Cheng to run for the magistrate’s seat with just 58 days to go before the election. He ultimately lost by less than 50,000 votes, or 6.5 percent of total ballots cast.