- The Washington Times - Monday, February 7, 2005

ACAPULCO, Mexico — What was supposed to be a tight state election turned into a rout for the Democratic Revolution Party, boosting Mexico’s main leftist party’s chances for the presidency in 2006.

Running behind former Acapulco Mayor Zeferino Torreblanca, the party on Sunday ended 76 years of rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero.

With 92 percent of the vote counted, Mr. Torreblanca had a 55 percent to 42 percent lead over the PRI’s Hector Astudillo — embarrassing several respected polling companies who had the men in a statistical tie before the election.

Thousands of celebrating Democratic Revolution supporters danced in Acapulco’s main plaza as others cruised past tourists on the Costera boulevard honking horns and waving yellow party flags.

In an early-morning press conference yesterday, Mr. Torreblanca — who made his money on real-estate investments — promised to govern “for the poorest of Guerrero, for our indigenous brothers, for the women and for all the others.”

Two other state elections Sunday went as predicted: Democratic Revolution held on to the governorship of Baja California Sur, where the resorts of Los Cabos are located, while the PRI held on to Quintana Roo, home to Cancun.

Guerrero was an unusually emotion-filled victory for Democratic Revolution, which was born in 1989 out of a merger of leftist parties and PRI dissidents. The party says that since then, 300 of its activists have been killed in the state for political motives.

It also improves the presidential chances of the party’s most popular figure, Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

He has led nearly all recent polls for the upcoming national election, but his party finished third in the past two presidential votes and until now governed only three states on its own. The party’s weakness has cast doubts on its ability to win a nationwide campaign.

“It gives us a strong push toward 2006, without any doubt,” said party President Leonel Godoy.

Mexican President Vicente Fox’s National Action Party showed that it is not yet a true nationwide force.

It managed barely 1 percent of the vote in Guerrero, 10 percent in Baja California Sur and finished third in Quintana Roo.

The loss stung the PRI, which has been on the rebound since the shock of losing the presidency in 2000.

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