15 April 2006

Flag drops on two-horse race for governor

Photograph by : Farid Sanchez

Early polls give Arturo Zamora Jimenez (right) of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) an advantage over his main rival, Emilio Gonzalez Marquez of the National Action Party (PAN).

Story by : David Agren

The Jalisco governor's race officially started on April 1, pitting the former mayors of Guadalajara and Zapopan against each other. Wasting little time, both Arturo Zamora Jimenez of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and Emilio Gonzalez Marquez of the National Action Party (PAN) commenced campaign activities at the stroke of Midnight.

In an abberation from the federal election, where Mexico's three big parties are running neck-and-neck, Jalisco's election should be a two-horse race as the left-leaning Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) seldom performs well in perhaps the country's most conservative state. Additionally, the PRI, whose scandal-plagued national campaign has been rocked by corruption allegations and high-profile defections, could recapture Jalisco, which has solidly backed the PAN since Alberto Cardenas first captured power in 1995.

Gonzalez, the former mayor of Guadalajara, launched his campaign in Colonia Ferrocarril, an impoverished Guadalajara neighborhood populated by Mixtec Indians. Zamora stumped in the Guadalajara barrio where he grew up.

Four other candidates also threw their hats in the ring: The PRD's Enrique Ibarra Pedroza, Oliva de los Angeles Ornelas Torres of the Social Democratic and Campesino Alternative, Fernando Espinoza de los Monteros of the New Alliance Party and Adalberto Velasco Antillion of the Green Party (federally, the PRI and Greens are running a joint candidate, but not in Jalisco). Jalisco residents select their new governor on July 2, the same day they elect a new president.

Early polls give Zamora an advantage. An El Informador poll pegged his support at 49 percent, six points better than Gonzalez. The PRD only garnered five percent, although, federally, PRD candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was the choice of 23 percent of jalisciences.

The race officially started two weeks ago, but pre-election politicking began more than a year ago. Both Zamora and Gonzalez seemingly governed their respective municipalities with an eye towards capturing Jalisco's top prize. Zamora ran numerous radio and television commercials and put up billboards in his fast-growing suburb boasting of new public works projects. Controversially, he allegedly paid a Mexico City columnist to pen favorable articles. Gonzalez went as far as to put his face on notebooks given to Guadalajara's public school children. Publicity budgets in both municipalities soared.

Before seeking public office, Zamora gained fame as a high-profile defense attorney; he defended two Huichol Indians accused of murdering San Antonio Express-News journalist Phillip True.

Gonzalez is an accountant by profession, but a long-time PAN operative. The unspectacular reign of his predecessor, Jalisco Governor Francisco Ramirez Acuña, could hamper the Gonzalez campaign. Ramirez seldom speaks with the media, frequently takes foreign junkets and governs in an aloof style.

Gonzalez appeared with both PAN presidential candidate Felipe Calderon and Governor Ramirez at rallies in the Los Altos region last week. Zamora, on the other hand, failed to appear in public with embattled PRI presidential candidate Roberto Madrazo at some Jalisco campaign stops. Editorial cartoonists in Guadalajara newspapers lampooned the pair, running sketches suggesting Madrazo needs an assist from Zamora, more than the former Zapopan mayor needs a boost from the federal PRI campaign.

From the Guadalajara Colony Reporter

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