The chips are down for what promises to be the crown jewel of three 2017 governor elections: the State of Mexico. Not only that, this particular state election will definitely set the stage for the 2018 presidential election. The other two states voting for governor during the June 4 elections, Nayarit and Coahuila, are important but can’t compare in size or political relevance to the State of Mexico.
Just so you know, there will be a fourth election on June 4 in the state of Veracruz, but that one will be strictly for municipal mayors.
As of last Sunday, with the announcement that former presidential candidate for the National Action Party (PAN) Josefina Vazquez Mota would be their candidate, the registration is virtually closed even if the electoral process will officially start next March 3.
Two other candidates had previously been announced and, in order of appearance, were Delfina Gómez Álvarez of the National Regeneration Movement (Morena) and Alfredo del Mazo Maza for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI.)
The State of Mexico (Edo-Mex) election is the crown jewel for many different reasons. A large majority of its more than 11.5 million voters (the largest in the nation) forms part of the urban-phenomena called the “Mexico City Metropolitan Area” which gives abode to approximately 24 million people.
Sheer voting numbers make Edo-Mex the one state, with all those who will be contending in the 2018 presidential elections, the cherry on the cake. In 2012, former Edo-Mex governor Enrique Peña Nieto, who won the majority, was catapulted to the presidency.
But for the three main contending political parties, electoral times have changed radically.
Let’s take the three candidates one at a time.
PRI nominee Alfredo del Mazo Maza has not just a lot of political clout but also party pedigree.
He is in first place, because the PRI governs Edo-Mex; it has never lost an election. Del Mazo belongs to a long line of Edo-Mex politicos, as both his father and grandfather have been state governors.
Yet today all the odds are not with PRI. The once “steamroller” electoral machine is old and rackety, needing oil in all its screeching hinges.
And worst of all its ailments is President Enrique Peña Nieto’s performance as president of the nation. With his popularity at an all-time low of 12 percent ratings, Peña Nieto is an ill companion.
Del Mazo Maza perhaps is not a bad candidate having served as municipal mayor and in Congress, but now his Achilles heel most likely will be President Peña Nieto, who just happens to be his blood cousin.
Second on the list is Morena Senator Delfina Gómez Álvarez, also a former mayor for the Texcoco municipality. Since she announced her candidacy last year, she has slowly been creeping up in the polls to reach a now very uncomfortable (for Del Mazo Maza) third place.
The last to register was PAN’s Josefina Vázquez Mota, who is well-known nationally after having contended for president in 2012 coming in in third place with about 20 percent of the vote.
Though the three contenders are now official, they were not back in September 2016 when daily El Financiero carried out an Edo-Mex poll to gauge people’s preferences for governor candidates. At the time, Del Mazo Maza garnered 31 percent of the vote, Josefina came in second with 23 and, finally, Delfina was down with 14 percent.
Yet given Josefina’s indecision to register as pre-candidate and Del Mazo’s loss of popularity “by osmosis,” (being the President’s cousin) now pollsters see the three pretty even on the ballots. New polls are to be released soon now that the horses are at the starting gates.
A fact that has all and nothing to do with the candidates is the presence of Morena leader and two-times presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has an eternal feud with President Peña Nieto. The mud-slinging between these two — apparently unrelated to the upcoming Edo-Mex race for governor — will weigh heavily in this fray.
As a crown jewel of elections for this year, it’s definitely going to be a cliffhanger.