8/2Tijuana: Ex-Ruling Party Wins Mayor Race
- View SourceMexico's Ex-Ruling Party Wins Mayor Race
By ARTURO SALINAS
.c The Associated Press
TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) - Mexico's former ruling party scored an electoral upset
in this border city with a narrow victory by its mayoral candidate, a
gambling magnate who had trailed in pre-election polling, according to vote results
The Institutional Ruling Party, or PRI, also claimed victory in the
governor's race in the southern state of Oaxaca, though the challenger promised to
contest the outcome of Sunday's vote.
A win in Oaxaca to complement its triumph in Tijuana would boost the PRI,
whose 71-year hold on the presidency ended in 2000 with the election of Vicente
The victories also would help the presidential chances of PRI's national
leader Roberto Madrazo, whose party - though in opposition - remains Mexico's
largest and best-organized.
With 100 percent of the vote counted in Tijuana, flamboyant racetrack owner
Jorge Hank Rhon of the PRI finished 1 percentage point ahead of Jorge Ramos of
Fox's National Action Party.
The son of PRI godfather Carlos Hank Gonzalez, Hank Rhon came back from a
double-digit deficit in the polls by spending heavily and treating would-be
voters to parties on the grounds of his inoperative race track.
The father of 18 children and owner of a large private zoo, Hank Rhon has
estimated his wealth at about $500 million, part of it inherited from his father
and part built on profits from a nationwide network of sports betting
In 1988, two of his employees were convicted of killing a Tijuana journalist
who had reported on corruption for the crusading weekly Zeta.
``I'm happy, proud,'' said Hank Rhon of his victory.
Fox's National Action has held the Tijuana mayoral office for 15 years. In
1989, Baja California became the first state in 60 years to elect a non-PRI
governor, preparing the way for Fox's historic presidential victory in 2000.
The PRI also claimed a contested victory in Oaxaca, a party stronghold that
had been under siege by a coalition that included Fox's party as well as the
leftist Democratic Revolution Party.
With 90 percent of the votes counted, the PRI's Ulises Ruiz had 47 percent
compared to nearly 45 percent for opposition candidate Gabino Cue.
Cue charged that the official returns had been manipulated and he promised to
legally challenge the outcome.
He said he was suspicious of the halting, wobbly official computer reports of
the results, which at one point showed that well over 100 percent of the
votes had been counted in some districts.
``I don't have the slightest doubt that we won the election,'' he told The
Associated Press on Monday.
The formal legal vote count takes place Wednesday in the state's 25 electoral
Ruiz accused Cue of trying to undermine a legitimate election.
A victory in Oaxaca would help the PRI shore up its southern base, which is
also Madrazo's center of power. It would also mark a triumph over several
Madrazo rivals who had almost openly backed Cue in hopes of halting the PRI
leader's possible march to the presidential candidacy in 2006.
During the campaign, Ruiz demanded a former governor and the party secretary
general be expelled from the party for allegedly helping Cue.
Madrazo, who espouses a sort of business-friendly populism, has steadily run
second to Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in presidential
National Action's Luis Armando Reynoso Femat easily defeated the PRI's Oscar
Lopez Velarde in Sunday's only other governor's race, holding the state of
Aguascalientes for Fox's party.
08/02/04 22:00 EDT
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