07 July 2006

Three in a row: PAN sweeps Jalisco

National Action Party (PAN) governor-elect Emilio Gonzalez Marquez runs into an April rally in Tepatitlan de Morelos, Jalisco with president-elect Felipe Calderon.

By David Agren

After waging a nasty and downright ungentlemanly attack campaign, Emilio Gonzalez Marquez of the National Action Party (PAN) toppled Arturo Zamora Jimenez of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in the Jalisco governor’s race, keeping the traditionally conservative state in PAN hands for six more years and again bannishing the once-mighty PRI to the political wilderness.

"Always remember, Jalisco is a PAN state," said Alberto Cardenas, the state’s first PAN governor, who held office from 1995 – 2001 and also won a senate seat last Sunday, explaining his party’s enduring success.

"Jalisco is now a better state … after two PAN governments."

Gonzalez, the former mayor of Guadalajara, led a PAN landslide, as the right-leaning party captured all of the mayors’ races in the Guadalajara area, a majority of the state’s municipal governments and 19 of the 20 directly-elected legislature seats. He won 45.1 percent of the gubernatorial votes, besting Zamora by nearly four percentage points. Enrique Ibarra of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) received only 7.8 percent of the vote. Most polls released before a Jalisco State Electoral Institute (IEEJ) publication ban on June 23 put Zamora marginally ahead.

Running from behind, the PAN’s campaign turned negative early on. Zamora, a high-profile defense attorney and former Zapopan mayor, caught flack almost immediately for supposedly not declaring his complete net worth to the IEEJ. According to a front-page story in the Mural newspaper, he was mentioned unfavorably in a Drug Enforcement Administration document. The PRI campaign nearly derailed in the race’s final days, when agents from the attorney general’s office (PGR), appeared at his Zapopan home, acting on a legal compalaint lodged by the PAN’s national president that accused Zamora of being a party to fraud at the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS). The investigation was dropped the next day, but the damage was done.

Along with assailing Zamora, Gonzalez also picked a fight with the University of Guadalajara, a bastion of PRD domination and a favorite PAN whipping boy.

The race became so ugly, the state’s business community at one point begged for a truce.

"In the case of Jalisco it’s been a very negative campaign," said Alberto Mora, the PRI president in Guadalajara.

"We’ve had a dirty war."

Although the state’s strongest party, the PAN alienated some voters during the regime of present Governor Francisco Ramirez Acuña – a favorite for a federal cabinet appointment in a Felipe Calderon-led PAN government. Acuña governed in an aloof style, took numerous foreign junkets and seldom spoke to the media.

"Right now, the PRI represents change in Jalisco," Mora said in a pre-election interview.

"The (PAN) represents more of the same."

Gonzalez, whose performance as Guadalajara mayor failed to generate much excitement, acknowledged past shortcomings, telling an election night crowd outside the PAN’s headquarters in the Colonia Americana, "Our governments haven’t been perfect, but they have been better [than before]."

Despite winning for the third-consecutive time, the PAN’s margin of victory continued to shrink. Some traditional PAN voters cast ballots against Gonzalez, although not necessarily for Zamora.

"I protested today because of [Governor] Francisco Ramirez Acuña," said Jorge Ramirez, a PAN supporter, who marked an X for the Nueva Allianza.

"Alberto Cardenas did a good job, but not Ramirez."

When asked why he wouldn’t support Zamora, he responded, "We’d return to seeing deliquents in the government."

Along with Gonzalez’s win, the PAN retained the mayor’s office in Guadalajara and recaptured the Zapopan, Tlaquepaque and Tonala municipal governments. The PRI, however, ousted the PAN from Chapala’s city hall and won again in Puerto Vallarta.

"We won in a lot of places where we didn’t think we would," said Antonio Galvan, a Guadalajara jeweler, celebrating outside the Felipe Calderon campaign headquarters near the Glorieta Minerva.

Both PAN and PRI militants converged on the Glorieta Minerva late on election night, but things remained calm. PAN supporter Ignacio Mendoza couldn’t help gloating and indulging in some shadenfreuder.

"The PRI, they’re through," he chortled.

"Good riddance."

From the Guadalajara Reporter

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