By RICARDO CASTILLO
The next round of elections in Mexico is just around the corner. slated for Sunday. June 2. There will be political activity on different basis in six different states.
Clearly, the attention will be most focused in the states of Puebla and Baja California. where elections for governor will be attracting the bulk of attention. They are, however, very different in essence. if not in nature.
The other four states with elections are Aguascalientes, Tamaulipas and Quintana Roo, where the full state legislatures will be changed, and Durango, where the mayorship will change hands in all 39 municipalities.
In Baja California and Puebla, the conservative National Action Party (PAN) will be colliding with the new National Regeneration Movement (Morena), which 60 days prior to the election looks almost invincible on the political stage.
In Baja California, it is the regular full-fledged state election for governor, the Chamber of Deputies, made up of 25 races (17 majority seats, as well as eight pluri-nominal seats, shared by parties according to vote quantity). Also at stake are the state’s five municipalities, Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada, Tecate and state capital Mexicali.
The second election will be in Mexico’s third-most populated state, Puebla, which is an extraordinary election. Pulse News Mexico readers may remember that last Christmas day then Puebla Governor Martha Ericka Alonso took a helicopter ride to Mexico City. The chopper plummeted “in flames,” according to witnesses, killing her, her husband, an aide and two pilots.
The death of Alonso forced the state Assembly and Senate to call for a new election. which was promptly slated by the National Electoral Institute to be in tandem with the other five elections.
The Puebla PAN is running in coalition with the same minority parties it ran with during the 2018 election, that is, the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) and the Citizens’ Movement (MC). Their candidate is Enrique Cárdenas, former dean of the University of the Americas. In 2018, he ran, and lost, as an independent candidate. This time. the three abovementioned parties sided with him.
For Morena, former Senator Miguel Barbosa is having an encore, since he ran a tight race against Ericka Alonso, who beat him by a nose in the July 1, 2018 election. Barbosa refused to concede and challenged the legality of Alonso’s race. Finally, both the state and the federal Electoral Courts gave her the victory. She was sworn in on Dec. 5 and her mandate lasted a mere 19 days.
Barbosa could not escape suspicion. PAN members shout at him “assassin” blaming him of masterminding the fall of the chopper. Barbosa has said more than several times “my hands are clean,” which of course, is a defense that’s not admissible to the now-sore PAN politicians who lost a governorship. The cause of the chopper accident is still under investigation and the result of an analysis of the motors made by the Canadian manufacturer are still pending. But for all practical purposes, the Alonso case is considered closed as an accident.
Barbosa, however, had to struggle with other powers at be within the Morena political party. The national Morena leadership apparently does not like Barbosa and during the primary ran a hand-picked candidate, Alejandro Armenta. Barbosa won hands down.
Both Barbosa and Cárdenas kicked off their campaigns on Sunday, March 31, and the initial news is that Cárdenas proved to have a scant following, while Barbosa was joined by a hefty crowd. By the next day – when this was written – all pundits agree that it will be a mismatch. since “Cárdenas was abandoned by his backing political parties.” We’ll be watching this contest, if there is one.
In Baja California, it’s a very different story. The PAN has ruled the state now for the past 30 years. Personally, back in 1989, I worked as a journalist in the San Diego-Tijuana metropolitan complex, and back then, a former Ensenada and tuna fishing business entrepreneur won the election cleanly to become the first PAN governor, not just in the history of Baja California, but of Mexico. It was a victory that rocked the then-almighty Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) at the seams. So a defeat for the PAN now would mark the end of an era in power and perhaps further loss of control by this until-now competing party.
But what hints that Morena may oust the PAN rule in Baja? Simply put, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) won the six states in question in different types of elections last year and his popularity remains very strong.
Plus, Morena has nominated political heavyweight Jaime Bonilla as its candidate. Bonilla has been both a federal deputy and a senator, and is an industrial engineer who has grown close to the entire powerhouse the maquiladora industry is now in the state.
The PAN, on the other hand, is postulating Oscar Vega Marín, a public official who has served at the Interior Secretariat as its “official mayor,” the person who controls the secretariat’s political handling. He’s also been head of the National Public Security System (now in a shambles), as well as Baja state Education secretary.
Both the Puebla and Baja California elections are hot political potatoes for AMLO to juggle. He´s promised he’ll stay aloof and “for the next two months, I will neither visit Puebla or Baja California as to not interfere with the elections.”
Yet all signs point – remember this ain’t over till it’s over – to Morena being in an advantageous position to snatch two states away from the PAN, increasing its number of governors from five to seven.
At Morena, for now, they are licking their chops!