Alejandra del Moral, the Va Por México Coalition’s gubernatorial candidate in the State of Mexico. Photo: Twittter

By MARK LORENZANA

With more than 12.4 million registered voters in the State of Mexico (EdoMex), this year’s gubernatorial election there is viewed by many as a supposed barometer for the 2024 Mexican presidential elections.

The ruling party, the leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), is looking to wrest away control of EdoMex from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), whose own incumbent governor, Alfredo del Mazo Maza, narrowly beat Morena’s Delfina Gómez in the 2017 gubernatorial elections.

Gómez, after leaving her post as head of Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) in August of last year, is once again Morena’s official candidate for governor of EdoMex. On Tuesday, Jan. 17, the PRI’s Alejandra del Moral was registered as the only candidate for the governorship of EdoMex with the Va Por México Coalition, made up of the PRI, the National Action Party (PAN) and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).

Del Moral, 39, entered public service at the young age of 19 and has held various positions within the PRI. In 2009 she became the youngest mayor in the country, when she won the mayorship of Cuautitlán Izcalli in EdoMex, where she also became the first-ever woman leader of the municipality.

“Today, the process to win the governorship of the State of Mexico begins. Today, our triumph begins. We are gathered here to take the first step of what will be the victory of Mexican families,” said Del Moral on Tuesday, after submitting her documentation and application to officially register her candidacy for governor. “We are the change because we represent the empowerment, participation and defense of women, because we are the alternative that has the capacity and strength to move forward.”

On Thursday, Jan. 12, national leaders of the political parties that make up the Va Por México Coalition — the PAN’s Marko Cortés, the PRI’s Alejandro “Alito” Moreno and the PRD’s Jesús Zambrano — held a joint press conference, announcing that the PRI will name candidates for the elections in Edomex and Coahuila, with the PAN naming the candidates for the presidency and the governorship of Mexico City.

In the press conference, Moreno announced that it will be up to his party, the PRI, to select the candidates for the governorship of Coahuila and EdoMex. He stressed that both elections will be for the defense of a model of democratic values, ​​and for a better quality of life for Mexicans.

“Those who attack the party or the coalition are attacking the future of the country, and all they do is lend themselves to the game of Morena and the government,” said Moreno, perhaps alluding to PRI members Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong and Claudia Ruiz Massieu, who have requested his resignation, and who were not present at the event.

As early as Dec. 20, however, the National Political Council (CPN) of the PRI already approved the signing of coalition agreements with the PAN and the PRD for the 2023 elections in EdoMex and Coahuila, as well as the publication of the calls for the selection of candidates for both governorships.

On the morning of Tuesday, in his daily press conference, López Obrador criticized the Va Por México Coalition’s decision.

“In the conservative bloc, who knows how they are going to do it, how to select their presidential candidate. They are already talking, and reports are spreading that the PAN will support the PRI in the State of Mexico and in Coahuila,” said AMLO. “And in exchange, they have already settled that the PRI is going to support the PAN here for the governorship of Mexico City and for the presidency. In other words, those from the PRI who already have their sights on the presidency are facing a big problem, if that agreement is true.”

Critics of Morena, however, see López Obrador lashing out at the opposition bloc as a sign of nervousness and worry — particularly in the upcoming fight for the governorship of EdoMex. Although unofficial polls last year have pegged Morena gubernatorial candidate Gómez as having the slight advantage, EdoMex has always been a PRI stronghold, and the Va Por México Coalition seemingly getting their act together recently — as well as the PAN and the PRI regaining their presence in EdoMex — is a cause for worry within the Morena ranks.

Political commentator F. Bartolome has said as much, in his Wednesday, Jan. 18, column for Mexican daily newspaper El Universal.

“Although Halloween is a long way away, the Morenistas in the State of Mexico are very scared. Although their words say that they are very confident that Delfina Gómez will win, their actions reveal the opposite,” wrote Bartolome. “The Mexican pre-campaigns are just starting, and the operators of Morena have already filed four legal appeals against the PRI member Alejandra del Moral, trying to derail the alliance between PRI, PAN and PRD. And this is just beginning. What’s missing?”

On Wednesday, the leader of the PRI in EdoMex, Eric Sevilla, accused Morena of harassment via electoral complaints filed against PRI and Va Por México Coalition gubernatorial candidate Del Moral. Sevilla asserted that Morena’s complaints against Del Moral are borne out of fear.

“They (the electoral complaints) are obvious signs of the fear that they have of us,” Sevilla said. “It is the fear in them that we will win again, just as we did in the 2021 elections, when we showed them that the alliance obtained more votes than Morena.”

Morena has already officially filed four complaints against Del Moral before the Electoral Institute of the State of Mexico (IEEM), which, Sevilla asserted, lack legal grounds.

One thing going against Morena’s Gómez is her checkered political past, with the most serious controversy involving her tenure as mayor of the city of Texcoco in EdoMex, from 2013 to 2015.

Gómez was found guilty of withholding 10 percent of the salaries of close to 500 municipal workers in Texcoco and funneling the money into Morena’s coffers. In late 2021, Mexico’s National Electoral Institute (INE) had gathered evidence of Gómez taking a cut of the workers’ salaries through checks from the City Council of Texcoco, which she herself signed. And evidence showed that one of her assistants, María Victoria Anaya Campos, received from 2013 to 2015 more than 10.8 million pesos from the workers’ salaries.

However, aside from a fine of 4.5 million pesos that the INE imposed on Morena in what the electoral body described as “an irregular financing network carried out between February 2013 and July 2015 in Texcoco that served to pay for Morena’s training,” Gómez has largely escaped the misappropriation case unscathed.

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