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Tabasco too

October 18, 2006

VOTERS IN MEXICO'S OIL-RICH state of Tabasco offered a stinging rebuke on Sunday to their prodigal son, the notoriously sore loser of last July's presidential race, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Residents of Tabasco went to the polls to vote for governor, but the election was as much a referendum on Lopez Obrador's refusal to accept defeat on July 2 and his calls for a parallel government in exile.

Voters in the southeast state, a stronghold of Lopez Obrador's leftist Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, have delivered the following message to the former presidential candidate: Get over yourself. By a 10-point margin, they elected Andres Granier, the candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. This after Lopez Obrador spent three weeks campaigning alongside his party's candidate, Cesar Raul Ojeda. Before Lopez Obrador's meltdown last summer, Ojeda had been leading in the polls.

The candidates had barely discernible disagreements on policy. Both Ojeda and Granier -- a respected former mayor of the capital city of Villahermosa who represents a break from the past generation of PRI leaders -- pledged to increase social spending to address economic disparities in a state awash in oil money. The biggest source of contention in the race was the new governor's view of the presidential election. Granier pledged to work with conservative President-elect Felipe Calderon, whose party is not a force in Tabasco. Ojeda adhered to his political godfather, Lopez Obrador, signing off on his ludicrous claim that the national election was stolen.

The PRD, predictably, is claiming fraud and gearing up to fight the results before the nation's electoral tribunals (which Lopez Obrador can be expected to discredit if he doesn't obtain satisfaction, as he did when they certified the results of the national election). The party is entitled to do so, especially in light of Tabasco's unsavory history of political corruption. In 1994, when the PRI's national hegemony was complete, Lopez Obrador ran for governor of Tabasco and lost, a victim of Tabasco's crooked politics.

This time, however, it appears that his party is the victim of one man's megalomania. If upheld, the results in Tabasco will be an encouraging sign that most Mexicans, even in Lopez Obrador's home state, now accept the verdict of July's presidential election.

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