ACAPULCO, Mexico — Both candidates for governor of the cartel-plagued state of Guerrero declared themselves winners last night as polls closed in an election shadowed by corruption scandals, political violence, and the drug war.
The vote in Guerrero, home to the resort city of Acapulco and a battleground for feuding drug cartels, is the first of six gubernatorial elections this year in Mexico and sets the stage for the 2012 presidential election.
Former party allies who are second cousins faced off in an acrimonious campaign. Even before election authorities began a preliminary count, each was confident of victory.
“All the trends favor us in an irreversible manner,’’ said Angel Aguirre of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD.
Manuel Anorve, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, made similar remarks.
The PRI is hoping that a win in Guerrero would give it momentum as it seeks to regain the presidency, which it controlled for 71 years before losing it in 2000 to the National Action Party of current President Felipe Calderon. The PRI lost Guerrero to the PRD in 2005.
The Guerrero race has demonstrated the influence of the PRI, which ruled for decades as the dominant party through paternalism and strong-arm election tactics that many Mexicans considered a quasi-dictatorship.
Even Aguirre comes from PRI roots; he recently split from that party to run on the PRD ticket.
During the race, his campaign accused PRI activists of badly beating one of his supporters, while the PRI claims two of its activists were the targets of political attacks. The PRD demanded an investigation into Anorve’s finances after the newspaper Reforma published allegations from a protected witness who said in court documents that the PRI candidate had received millions in cash from drug gangs.