Taipei, Dec. 1 (CNA) Incumbent lawmakers from Taiwan's two major political parties seeking re-election in January's legislative races are facing stiff challenges from rivals in Miaoli, Nantou, Yunlin and Changhua counties.
The main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) currently holds the two legislative seats in Miaoli in the diehard "blue" (pro-KMT) county that has been under KMT control for more than six decades.
In the first electoral district, two-term lawmaker Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) of the KMT is facing Lo Kuan-hsing (羅貫星) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), a two-term county councilor.
Among the other four candidates in the race, Chu Che-cheng (朱哲成) poses the biggest threat to Chen and Lo.
Formerly of the DPP and a secretary in the Executive Yuan's Central Taiwan Office, Chu is now running under the banner of the Taiwan People's Party (TPP), founded by Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) in August.
In the county's second electoral district, the KMT's Hsu Chih-jung (徐志榮) is seeking his second term as lawmaker.
His top rival is ex-Toufen Mayor Hsu Ting-chen (徐定禎) of the DPP. He was previously an independent before joining the DPP in 2018.
The other four challengers are newcomers to Miaoli.
With the races in both districts expected to boil down to old-school KMT-DPP rivalries, Chen and Hsu Chih-jung are favored in the KMT stronghold to win new terms in the Legislative Yuan. Neck and neck in Nantou
In Nantou County, the only landlocked county of Taiwan, the two seats are also held by KMT members -- Ma Wen-chun (馬文君) in District No. 1 and Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) in District No. 2.
Coming from a political family, Ma was previously an ex-Puli Township chief and county councilor, and she has been a lawmaker representing Nantou since 2009.
She is facing the toughest challenge of her legislative career, however, from Tsai Pei-hui (蔡培慧).
The Nantou native is currently one of the DPP's legislators-at- large (lawmakers elected by a separate vote for political parties), who decided to throw herself into a directly elected legislative district race in this election cycle.
Tsai, a former legislative aide, is known for her work in the rebuilding of Nantou after it was devastated by a magnitude-7.3 earthquake on Sept. 21, 1999 that claimed more than 2,400 lives and left over 11,000 injured.
Hsu, meanwhile, gained fame as the spokeswoman for KMT presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) when he successfully ran for Kaohsiung mayor in 2018.
Hsu was also a Nantou County councilor before she won a by-election to become a lawmaker in 2015.
As a former Nantou City mayor, Hsu is expected to win a majority of support in the city, the largest source of voters in Nantou's No. 2 District, which would give her re-election bid a major boost.
She is facing Chen Kuei-yu (陳癸佑) of the DPP and three other candidates from smaller parties.
Chen, a police officer, previously served as the head of Shuili Township before winning the DPP nomination in the lawmaker race.
According to latest polls, Ma and Tsai are neck-to-neck while Hsu has a relatively comfortable lead in their respective races. Can Yunlin County incumbents hang on?
In Yunlin County, meanwhile, another two seats are up for grabs. In District No. 1, incumbent Legislator Su Chih-fen (蘇治芬) of the DPP is facing two-term KMT lawmaker Chang Chia-chun (張嘉郡) and three other challengers.
Su is a former Yunlin County magistrate and has an edge as the incumbent lawmaker in the race. Chang, who represented the district as a lawmaker from 2008 to 2016, comes from a political family, and her aunt, Chang Li-shan (張麗善), currently serves as county magistrate.
In District No. 2, three-time lawmaker Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) of the DPP is hoping to win a fourth term but will have to overcome KMT newcomer Hsieh Shu-ya (謝淑亞).
Hsieh was a Yunlin County councilor and Douliu mayor and has served as Chang Li-shan's deputy since last year.
Though Yunlin is considered a DPP stronghold, both Chang and Hsieh are believed to post serious threats to Su and Liu, and the races are still too close to call. Four seats up for grabs in Changhua
In Changhua, both the KMT and DPP are eying all four seats in the central county. Currently, KMT has one while the DPP holds the remaining three.
In the first electoral district, the incumbent is Ke Cheng-fang (柯呈枋) of the KMT, who won his seat in a by-election earlier this year after Wang Hui-mei (王惠美) vacated it following a successful run for county chief in Taiwan's November 2018 local elections.
His main challenger will be the DPP's Chen Hsiu-bao (陳秀寶), a three-time county councilor and the daughter of former legislator Chen Chin-ting (陳進丁).
In District No. 2, incumbent DPP lawmaker Huang Shiou-fang (黃秀芳) is in a three-way-race with the KMT's Chang Han-tien (張瀚天) and independent Huang Yu-fen (黃玉芬).
Huang Yu-fen is backed by tycoon Terry Guo (郭台銘) and could have an effect on the race.
In an environment that was very favorable to the DPP in 2016, Huang Shiou-fang won the district with 45.07 percent of the vote, compared with 40.01 percent for KMT challenger Lin Tsang-min and 7.61 percent for Huang Yu-fen.
But in the November 2018 election for mayor of Changhua City, the biggest source of votes in the district, Huang Yu-fen pulled in 30 percent of the vote, to the DPP candidate's 35 percent and the KMT candidate's 34 percent, so she could if nothing else spoil the KMT's Chang's chances of victory.
In District No. 3, four candidates are competing for the seat, led by incumbent Hung Chun-yi (洪宗熠) of the DPP, who won the district in 2016 with 44.58 percent of the vote.
He may benefit from a split in the blue camp, as Hsieh I-feng (謝衣鳳) of the KMT, and former Beidou Township chief Yang Li-siang (楊麗香), who has been a KMT member but is running as an independent, are also vying for the seat.
Seven candidates, meanwhile, are battling in the fourth electoral district, with incumbent Chen Su-yueh (陳素月) of the DPP and former KMT Legislator Hsiao Ching-tien (蕭景田) seen as having the best chance of winning.
KMT Changhua County Chapter head Chang Man-li (張曼莉) told CNA that the party is confident it will take all four seats in the county, while DPP counterpart Chiu Chien-fu (邱建富) said the DPP will win at least two or three seats if not all four.
Taiwan will elect 73 legislators directly in districts around Taiwan and cast votes for political parties to elect another 34 legislators-at-large on Jan. 11.
Another six seats will go to indigenous candidates who will be voted on by aboriginal voters.