Senior Mexican Official Quits To Run Against Ruling Party In State Election

A top Mexican security official said on Friday he had resigned to seek the governorship of the northern state of Coahuila against the candidate of the ruling party of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejia, who last month was frustrated in his bid to secure the candidacy of the ruling National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), said he would instead compete for another leftist group, the Labor Party (PT).

His decision is a blow to MORENA, which in June is hoping to add Coahuila to its tally of the country’s state governments. It already controls nearly two-thirds.

The PT is allied nationally with MORENA, but the party reserves the right to run separately at the state level.

Mexican media reports had suggested that Mejia was preparing to run separately after he denounced results of a MORENA poll last month which awarded victory to his competitor, Senator Armando Guadiana, in the party race to be candidate.

Lopez Obrador called for that outcome to be respected and a few days later said alongside Mejia that Mejia had “accepted the results” of the MORENA poll and would remain in his post.

Announcing his decision to run for the PT at a news conference, Mejia sought to cast his tilt as one loyal to Lopez Obrador and the policies of his administration.

But splitting the leftist vote likely plays into the hands of Coahuila’s current rulers, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The PRI governed Mexico for most of the 20th century but suffered a crushing defeat to Lopez Obrador in 2018.

Mejia has been one of the key government officials tasked with getting a grip on violent crime. However, in just over four years, homicides are already on the verge of surpassing the total from the entire previous six-year administration.