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Mexico's first lady eyed for mayoral run

MEXICO CITY -- Members of President Vicente Fox's political party have formed a committee to back the first lady in a run for Mexico City mayor -- despite polls consistently showing her as a leading presidential candidate, a newspaper reported yesterday.

El Universal newspaper quoted two congressmen in Fox's conservative National Action Party as saying the mayor's office would be a natural first step for Marta Sahagun's untested political abilities.

"With this support committee, we are starting a network that will help Marta Sahagun and that will begin making the necessary contacts," said Representative Jorge Triana Tena.

Sahagun's spokesman David Monjaraz said the first lady "had no knowledge of the existence of this alleged committee, not to mention who would be on it. This was not her initiative."

In January, Sahagun applied to become a member of National Action's 300-delegate national council, a first step toward officially seeking the presidential nomination. Term limits bar Fox from seeking the presidency again.

Initially, Sahagun denied having any presidential aspirations, but that soon changed to a wait-and-see attitude. "It will take strong reflection, and it has to make complete sense," she said earlier this month while accompanying her husband at the Special Summit of the Americas in the northern city of Monterrey.

Shortly thereafter, National Action director Luis Felipe Bravo Mena said rumors that the first lady would seek the presidency were "speculation that a lot of people are having fun with, but ultimately is not the least bit serious."

Sahagun was Fox's spokeswoman before the couple married in 2001 on the one-year anniversary of his historic election. She has never held public office.

From the beginning, she broke the Mexican tradition of seen-but-not-heard first ladies, traveling around the country in support of the government and championing her private antipoverty foundation.

Sahagun consistently has placed very high in 2006 presidential polls, close behind the front-runner, populist Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

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