The Miami Herald
Mon, Sep. 06, 2004

PRI tries to hold on to Veracruz governorship

Mexico's former ruling party worked to retain the governor's seat in Veracruz state and continued its recent winning ways.

JALAPA, Mexico - (AP) -- Mexico's former ruling party hoped to keep control of the governor's seat in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz on Sunday, in an election that could add to the party's recent resurgence in local political races.

The former ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, lost the presidency four years ago after holding the office for more than seven decades. But the party has shown signs of a rebirth, and polls showed candidate Fidel Herrera, a 55-year-old lawyer and senator, leading ahead of the vote in Veracruz.

Voters stood in short lines Sunday outside polls in the state capital, Jalapa, located 150 miles east of Mexico City.

A win for the PRI in Veracruz, Mexico's third-largest state by population, would hardly be a surprise; the PRI has held the governor's seat here since the party's creation in 1929.

Leaving the polls, Bonifacio Jimenez, 80, said he has been faithful to the PRI his whole life. Sunday was no exception.

''They're my candidates,'' he said. ``I always vote for the PRI.''

Teresa Martinez, 42, of Jalapa, said public-works projects inspired her to vote for six more years under the PRI.

''The highways, the bridges -- Veracruz has changed a lot,'' she said.

A victory by Herrera would add to a recent string of victories for the PRI, including gubernatorial wins in southern Oaxaca and northern Chihuahua and Durango states -- as well as the mayors' races in the border cities of Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez.

Herrera faced competition from candidates Gerardo Buganza Salmeron, a 48-year-old industrial engineer and former senator who is a member of President Vicente Fox's National Action Party, and Dante Alfonso Delgado Rannauro, who is running under the banner of United for Veracruz, a coalition of three smaller parties.