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Top Mexican Rightist to Seek State Governorship

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Vicente Fox, whom many expect to be the Mexican right wing’s next presidential candidate, announced Wednesday that he will make another run at the governorship he claims to have lost to ruling-party fraud four years ago.

“I am eager to participate in these moments that I consider grave for the nation because of what has happened in recent weeks,” Fox, 52, said in a speech that marked his full-time return to politics after a year’s hiatus.

The announcement puts pressure on the Mexican government, which last week signed a political reform pact with the three largest opposition groups, to set a date for new elections in the mining and agricultural state of Guanajuato.

Those elections were promised in 1991.

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That year--in what has become the standard opposition response to allegedly dirty elections--members of Fox’s National Action Party put up roadblocks and staged sit-ins in public buildings that made his home state ungovernable, forcing former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari to name an interim governor and promise new elections.

Because a member of Fox’s own party was named interim governor, however, party leaders have been reluctant to press for a new vote. But with a new state election law in place, the party has called a nominating convention for Feb. 5.

Fox is the first hopeful to seek the nomination.

He downplayed the possibility that he will be backed by a coalition of opposition parties. He has spoken with national leaders and individual members of the Democratic Revolutionary Party, but there has been no effort to form a coalition, he said.

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Still, Fox’s ability to attract support from voters of other parties could be an important test of his viability as a presidential candidate.

The tall, charismatic Fox was a high-profile legislator who was prevented from running for president last year because his mother was Spanish. Since then, the constitutional provision barring children of foreigners from the presidency has been rescinded, effective in 2000, clearing the way for a possible Fox bid.


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