MEXICO CITY — A dissident wing of the Institutional Revolutionary Party announced Thursday that Gov. Arturo Montiel of Mexico state would be its candidate against front-runner Roberto Madrazo for the former ruling party's nomination in next year's presidential election.
The loosely organized group, which has been nicknamed All United Against Madrazo, chose Montiel, 61, over four other candidates -- two former governors, a serving governor and the party's leader in the Senate, Enrique Jackson. In recent weeks, Montiel and Jackson spent enormous sums on advertising to increase their name recognition.
Montiel is expected to face Madrazo in a nationwide primary in November or December. The PRI's 71-year dominance of the Mexican presidency was broken by the 2000 victory of Vicente Fox of the National Action Party.
The announcement came on the eve of Madrazo's expected resignation today as party president, which is to be followed by a formal announcement that he will seek the PRI nomination. Madrazo narrowly lost the party's presidential nomination in 1999 to Francisco Labastida.
As president of the party since 2002, Madrazo helped revive the PRI after its crushing loss to Fox. But he is seen as a divisive figure within the ranks, and even party loyalists fear he can't win a nationwide election. This year, PRI opponents of Madrazo's candidacy came together to agree on a process to select an alternative candidate and vowed to support the winner.
Some analysts question whether the four losing aspirants will remain loyal to Montiel, saying they might make deals with Madrazo or even mount their own campaigns.
In addition, there is a wild card, Elba Esther Gordillo, the teachers union leader and bitter foe of Madrazo. Gordillo, who is the party's general secretary, is scheduled to replace Madrazo as PRI president.
Supporters of Gordillo formed a new party last month, and it is not clear whether she will support Madrazo, Montiel or break away from the PRI altogether, taking the votes of many of Mexico's 1 million-plus teachers.
Montiel, who was an accountant before entering politics, is a former mayor of Naucalpan. He got the nod after winning the most points in a weighted formula that included national polling and the preferences of opinion leaders and of the candidates themselves.
"This is not a victory for Montiel but a collective victory, and in a special way for my colleagues," Montiel said, gesturing to the four losing politicians, who assembled at a hotel for the announcement. "We are going to demand with all our firmness that the [PRI nomination] process be democratic, transparent, fair and acceptable to all of us."
Although Jackson was favored by some within the party as the best consensus builder, Montiel was thought to have an edge due to the enormous political war chest he built up as governor of Mexico state, the country's richest and most populous.
Other aspirants were former Tamaulipas Gov. Tomas Yarrington, former Hidalgo Gov. Manuel Angel Nunez Soto and Coahuila Gov. Enrique Martinez.
Times researcher Cecilia Sanchez contributed to this report.