A Mexican Governor’s Race Carries Presidential Implications

But this year, the race is shaping up to be perhaps the closest ever, possibly foreshadowing a similarly tight contest next year in the race to succeed President Enrique Peña Nieto, a member of Institutional Revolutionary Party.

His deeply unpopular tenure, limited to a single six-year term by Mexican law, is weighing heavily on the party’s bid to retain both the State of Mexico governor’s office and the presidency.

That the Institutional Revolutionary Party is fighting for its life in the State of Mexico is even more significant because Mr. Peña Nieto is a native of the state and was its governor before winning the presidency.

But unbridled corruption, weak economic growth, soaring violence and the government’s own halting response to President Trump’s aggressive stance toward the country have eroded support for the Mexican president and his party, helping the political opposition improve its chances at the polls.

The biggest beneficiary so far, it appears, has been the leftist National Regeneration Movement, or Morena, led by the populist agitator Andrés Manuel López Obrador. He has tried to harness nationalist animus toward Mr. Trump by criticizing Mr. Peña Nieto’s handling of the American president and casting himself as a strong defender of Mexican sovereignty.

Mr. López Obrador, 63, is a front-runner in early polling for next year’s presidential election, and his momentum has helped to advance his party’s candidates at the regional level.

In the State of Mexico campaign, two polls released late last month showed his party’s candidate, Delfina Gómez Álvarez, 54, taking a thin lead over the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s candidate, Alfredo del Mazo Maza, 41.

The election is on June 4. Campaigns for governor are also being waged in the states of Coahuila and Nayarit, but in…

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