Taro Kono, Japan’s vaccine czar, is fast-emerging as the public’s top choice to replace outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, according to two polls — an edge that could have an outsized impact on the ruling party’s leadership vote ahead of a looming general election.

Kono, who also serves concurrently as administrative reform minister, was the top pick in two public opinion polls, with 23% of respondents in a survey released Monday by the Yomiuri Shimbun naming him as the most suitable person to take over from Suga.

The Yomiuri poll came just a day after Kono bested other potential candidates in a Kyodo News survey as the top pick to be Japan’s next leader, garnering the support of 31.9% of respondents.