Mexico's ruling party names gubernatorial candidates, but questions remain about unity

FILE - Supporters of presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, of the Morena party, wait for his arrival at Mexico City's Zocalo plaza, July 1, 2018. Mexico’s ruling party will announce its candidates for the 2024 gubernatorial elections on Nov. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Emilio Espejel, File)
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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s ruling party on Saturday named its candidates for eight governorships and the mayorship of Mexico City.

But after ruling out the most popular candidate for the capital, questions remain about whether the party can avoid desertions.

For the moment, former capital police chief Omar García Harfuch — who won polls on the city race but was knocked out by a gender quota requiring a female candidate — told local media he had no plans to leave the party.

“We will always respect the gender quotas and the decision of our party,” García Harfuch wrote in his social media accounts.

The Morena party, founded by charismatic President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is made up of disparate elements united only by López Obrador’s outsized personality, but he cannot be reelected and leaves office in ten months.

Morena already announced its nominee for the presidential race: former Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, who is seen as an unquestioningly faithful follower of the president.

García Harfuch gained fame as a tough and effective Mexico City police chief after he survived a 2020 ambush attack by the Jalisco drug cartel on a street in the capital. The brazen attack left him with three bullet wounds, while his two bodyguards and a bystander were killed.

Because the capital is so large — at over 9 million inhabitants — the post is considered a governorship, and has been a launching pad for the presidency in the past.

But the nomination went to Clara Brugada, the borough president of a rough stretch of low-income neighborhoods on the city’s east side. Brugada was preferred by the leftist wing of Morena because she built “utopias” — sports and cultural complexes — in neighborhoods where past administrations focused on the bare-bones issues of drainage, policing and chaotic transportation networks.

A top contender for the Morena presidential nomination, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, is expected to announce his next move Monday.

One passed-over senator who had hoped to run for governor of the central state of Puebla said he would consult his followers before announcing his plans.

And a primary candidate who failed to secure her party’s nomination left Morena in Morelos state, south of Mexico City. Sen. Lucía Meza announced this week that she will run on the opposition ticket for governor.

Her departure illustrates the problem Morena faces in uniting its disparate forces: Meza claims current Morelos Gov. Cuauhtémoc Blanco, a former soccer star and personal ally of López Obrador who was recruited from another party, sabotaged her candidacy. Blanco also has been investigated for ties to criminal gangs.

“Our state doesn’t matter to Morena, they don’t care if we are governed by a criminal,” Meza wrote Wednesday in her resignation letter.


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