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Governorship contest becomes five-horse race

March 27, 2012

With registration now closed, the Jalisco Electoral Institute (IEPCJ) has confirmed that five candidates will compete in the July 1 gubernatorial election.

The contenders are: Fernando Guzman Perez, 56, of the National Action Party (PAN); Jorge Aristoteles Sandoval Diaz, 38, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI); Fernando Garza Martinez, 61, of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD); Enrique Alfaro Ramirez, 38, of the Citizens’ Movement; and finally Maria de los Angeles Martinez, 48, of the New Alliance Party (PANAL).

The emergence of the latter candidate was the biggest surprise. Martinez, a local teacher, registered just minutes before the expiration of the March 15 deadline. She hopes to win around five percent of the vote on behalf of the PANAL, which was founded in 2006. More realistically, political analysts say, she will win one or two percent of the vote.

While the PRI remains favorite to win the state elections, PAN candidate Fernando Guzman has been boosted by the backing of former Guadalajara Mayor Alfonso Petersen. Upset by the outcome of the badly organized party primary, Peterson had previously refused to recognize Guzman’s victory.

Tensions remain strong among the leftist factions in Jalisco and local members of the PRD had some choice words for Tlajomulco Mayor Alfaro Ramirez following his recent split from the party.

“He overestimates his political capital and thinks that without us he can become governor, but he is wrong,” said Enrique Velazquez, while Celia Fausto accused Alfaro of acting with “arrogance and authoritarianism.”

Rupturing the state-wide leftist alliance, Alfaro announced earlier this month that he could no longer work with the PRD, but would continue to lead a coalition of the Citizens’ Movement (formerly known as Convergencia), the Labor Party (PT), and the National Regeneration Movement (Morena).

A popular and respected figure in Tlajomulco, Alfaro gained credibility by taking on the operators of the Guadalajara Airport over their refusal to pay municipal taxes, as well as starting programs to provide across-the-board financial assistance for local students.

But he has a fractious relationship with Raul Padilla, the former rector of the Universidad de Guadalajara (UdeG) who dominates the Jalisco PRD. As local kingmaker, Padilla normally decides who occupies senior party positions in Jalisco, but he was powerless to prevent the nomination of Alfaro, who came out on top in two public surveys to determine who should head the leftist coalition.

The alliance proved unworkable, fracturing barely a month after it was announced. Alfaro said he broke with the PRD “as a matter of dignity, an exercise in consistency and to send a clear message that we will not allow this political project to be kidnapped by anyone.”

This is not the first time Alfaro has split with the PRD. Fed up with constant interference from Padilla and the UdeG group, he led five other Jalisco mayors in leaving the party to join the Citizen’s Movement in May 2011.

Referring to the state leadership as a “mafia,” Alfaro explained he had since agreed “to build a coalition with the PRD because the national leadership of the party gave assurances that they would not allow the group that controls the PRD in Jalisco to impose their mediocre vision and their crooked rules.”

The collapse of the coalition will do neither Alfaro nor the PRD any favors, with the leftist vote in Jalisco split between the two. Mindful of this problem, Alfaro assured that “not only did we not break with the PRD supporters, but we invite them to follow our path. The doors remain open as this is a citizens’ movement without partisan ties.”

Surprisingly, the PRD opted for a right-wing candidate to replace Alfaro: former PAN member Fernando Garza. The mayor of Guadalajara from 2001 to 2003, Garza was once one of the more conservative figures in local politics.

He did initially register to run for governor with the PRD this year, only to pull out and begin a second bid to be mayor. Yet once the coalition collapsed, Garza found a shot at the governorship irresistible.

“We will fully support his candidacy to be the next governor of Jalisco,” said Juan Carlos Guerrero, state president of the PRD, last week.
The official campaign period begins March 30.

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