U-T San Diego News, 7/03/2012

— Sunday’s elections dealt a crushing blow to Mexico’s National Action Party, or PAN, both at the national level and in Baja California, the state where the party first came to power in 1989.

Official results are not expected until later this week, but a preliminary tally by Mexico’s federal Electoral Institute has given Peña Nieto close to 37 percent of the statewide vote. As in the national count, leftist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, came in second in Baja California, while the PAN’s Josefina Vázquez Mota placed third.

The PRI’s strong showing statewide buoys its hopes for the Baja California gubernatorial election next year, when voters are also scheduled to elect new mayors in all five of the region’s municipalities. But longtime observers said they are used to expecting the unexpected in this state of 3.2 million residents.

“Every party has to prove itself in every election to the voters in Baja California,” said Andrew Selee, senior adviser to the Mexico Institute of the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. “Because it’s so far from central control and because Baja Californians are themselves migrants from elsewhere in the country, there’s an independent streak that is unlike anywhere else.”