According to the headline of this Sankei report, it’s Mr. Hatoyama in the Lead, Meets Mr. Kan and Asks for Support.
Maybe, maybe not.
Now, as I’ve related here, if Hatoyama adds most if not all of Ozawa’s 50 votes to his own 30, he has 80 or so out o f the 221 Diet members eligible to vote for party president. That is surely very doable. Then, if he can add the bulk of the 20 ex-Socialists—more favorably disposed to old-school LDP alumnus Ozawa than Okada and his new school allies—to this total, all he needs to do is corral a goodly portion of Kan’s 30 votes to put himself over the top.
Not so fast. The same Sankei notes that the three DPJ Diet members from Okayama Prefecture have decided to poll 3,000 local DPJ members to determine whom to vote for. Other media reports claim that other prefectural chapters are trying to follow suit.
Now, if you’ve been wondering, where have I heard this story before, you are not alone. For it was the local voting in the 2001 LDP Presidential primaries that compelled its Diet members to ditch overwhelming favorite and former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and throw their support behind once-fringe candidate Junichiro Koizumi. More recently in 2007, Taro Aso put the scare into Yasuo Fukuda in the local voting and paved the way for his succession the following year.
Ozawa has done his browbeating best to cut out the local yokels and to force the election on a Saturday, just four days after his resignation—precisely to forestall an uprising from the provinces. He knows that Okada has been spending almost every week of the last four years “trampling on the sewer coverings” and wading the rice paddies, talking (and listening) to Taro Q. Citizen, well before he began his own chiho jungyo. But that only diminishes Hatoyama in the media’s collective mind. The media has already been casting the two-horse race as a battle between Hatoyama the Ozawa Sockpuppet vs. Okada the Klutz. So guess who is going to win a media poll?
Okada has two days to put the scare into the local chapters. The race is wide open.