Among the nine gubernatorial races that will take place alongside the national congressional midterms, no candidate has garnered more press, both within Mexico and internationally, than Jaime Rodríguez, who hopes to become the next governor of Nuevo León.
The state is one of the two largest prizes — Nuevo León, home to 5 million Mexicans, and Michoacán, home to 4.6 million Mexicans. Both contests are locked in tight too-close-to-call three-way races. Violence-plagued Guerrero, too, will elect a new governor.
But Rodríguez (pictured above), known affectionately by supporters as ‘El Bronco,’ could become, under electoral reforms implemented last year, the first independent governor in Mexican history. A successful northern businessman with a populist, maverick streak and a penchant to be photographed in cowboy boots, a cowboy hat or riding a horse, there’s no doubt that Rodríguez is borrowing heavily from the political playbook of Vicente Fox. Fox, running under the banner of the conservative Partido Acción Nacional (PAN), won the governorship of Guanajuato in 1995, then the national presidency just five years later, breaking the 71-year ruling stream of the powerful Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI).
Twelve years later, Fox (and his PAN successor, Felipe Calderón) is out of power, the PRI once again controls the presidency under Enrique Peña Nieto and the PRI hopes to extend its narrow hold on the Cámara de Diputados (Chamber of Deputies), the 500-member lower house of the Mexican legislature. Amid a sluggish economy, a disappointing record of reform and violence and corruption, many Mexicans won’t even bother to turn out.
Rodríguez hopes to take advantage of that apathy by embodying a new force in Mexican politics — a governor tied to none of the major parties, all of which have failed the Mexican electorate to some degree in the past 15 years. A member of the PRI for three decades (until last year) and a former mayor of García, a suburb of Monterrey, the state’s capital, Rodríguez is now running against the PRI, which has controlled the state’s government for decades (with the exception of a PAN government between 1997 and 2003). Continue reading Who is Jaime Rodríguez? The man capturing Mexico’s political imagination