Morena Senate Candidate Declared Winner amid Fraud Charges

Tamaulipas Senator-elect José Ramón Gómez Leal. Photo: Google


José Ramón Gómez Leal, the senatorial candidate of the Juntos Hacemos Historia movement — a political alliance composed of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) leftist ruling party, the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), and the Labor Party (PT) — was officially declared the winner of the extraordinary elections in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas on Monday, Feb. 20.

The senatorial elections, which were held on Sunday, Feb. 19, reportedly only had a paltry 21.9% percent voter turnout, with a total of 590,396 votes cast. A CNN en Español report on the night of Monday, Feb. 20, declared that “the real winner of the Tamaulipas senatorial elections was voter abstention.”

Around 6 p.m. on Sunday, Gómez Leal announced in a video posted on various social media platforms that the exit polls favored him, and thanked voters for their support. He will occupy the senatorial seat that was made vacant after the sudden death in a vehicular accident of Faustino López Vargas in October of last year.

On Monday, the opposition group Va Por México coalition — which consists of the centralist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the conservative National Action Party (PAN) and the left-leaning Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) — said in a joint statement that there had been widespread instances of alleged coercion, intervention of organized crime, harassment and even vote buying, in order to favor Gómez Leal.

Va por México said in its statement that among the instances of fraud they detected were “the intervention of organized crime directly supporting Morena and its candidate, the participation of representatives of Morena in the electoral booths and threats to citizens and voters.”

“Instances of fraud include the buying of votes in favor of Morena, the sustained harassment of the candidates during the campaign, the active campaigning of public officials in support of the Morena candidate and the excessive use of economic resources exceeding the campaign limits imposed by the electoral authority,” read the Va por México statement.

Marko Cortés, national president of the PAN, zeroed in on the alleged use of social programs by the AMLO government to entice voters to go for Morena candidates, as well as the purported “agreements with organized crime.”

“It is the practice that this regime uses, specifically, the system of using poverty by dangling social programs in exchange for votes,” said Cortés. “In some cases there are even agreements with organized crime.”

According to the Preliminary Election Results Program (PREP) on the morning of Monday, Gómez Leal received more than 421,000 votes, which accounts for 71.29 percent of the total votes, while Imelda Sanmiguel of the Va por México coalition received 22.14 percent and Manuel Muñoz of the Green Party (PVEM) settled for 3.90 percent. The PVEM, surprisingly, fielded its own candidate — Muñoz — despite being an original member of the Juntos Hacemos Historia alliance, along with Morena and the PT.

Mexico’s National Electoral Institute (INE) in Tamaulipas reported around 50 “incidents” on Sunday, which included “changes in polling precincts, voters who did not find their names on the voting list and prolonged absences of polling officials.”

In the 43 municipalities of Tamaulipas, 4,777 polling stations were put up, and 4,500 members of the Mexican Army and the National Guard (GN) were deployed.

For his part, INE President Lorenzo Córdova said he believes the Tamaulipas senatorial elections would be “the last electoral process organized in full democratic conditions and with certainty” before López Obrador’s contentious Plan B electoral reform takes effect.

Córdova likewise stressed that the successful elections in Tamaulipas were made possible by good financial management by the INE, as well as the commitment and hard work of thousands of INE employees.

“All of this was possible thanks to the good financial management of the INE. With efficiency and effectiveness, the INE has exercised proper spending of resources that belong to the Mexican people, in order to deliver free and authentic elections,” Córdova said.

“What is happening today in Tamaulipas has already been repeated in 330 electoral processes. All this has been possible thanks to the professionalism, dedication and commitment of thousands of INE workers committed to democracy in Tamaulipas today and throughout Mexico. The ones who are carrying the elections on their shoulders are the ones who, today, are treated by some as expendable.”

Despite the surge in insecurity and violence in the country in recent months, the Tamaulipas elections were generally peaceful, with no violent incidents reported as of Monday.

Leave a Reply