Chiang Wan-an was a teenager when his father sat him down to tell him about his heritage: he’s the great-grandson of Chiang Kai-shek, the Chinese nationalist leader who fought Mao Zedong’s Communists forces before fleeing to Taiwan and ruling it with an iron fist.

Now the younger Chiang, who was a corporate lawyer in the U.S. before entering Taiwan politics several years ago, is running for Taipei mayor in an election that could help restore the popularity of his famous ancestor’s political party, the Kuomintang (KMT).

The once-dominant party, whose charter still calls for unification with China, has seen support wither.