In the last weeks of 2015, Tamaulipas Senator Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca met with U.S. and Texas elected officials and former officials, in what appeared to be a move to further his aspirations to become the first PAN (Partido Acción Nacional) governor of Tamaulipas.

The former mayor of Reynosa bragged on his social networks, with photographs of himself alongside VIPs like Texas Governor Greg Abbott, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, former McAllen Mayor Richard Cortez, state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., and Congressman Henry Cuellar, to mention just a few.

Sen. Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca and Gov. Greg Abbott.
Sen. Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca and Gov. Greg Abbott.

While these and other Texan politicians do not wield influence in local elections in Mexico, the Reynosa legislator obviously believes being pictured with them does no harm, portraying him as someone with gravitas and good connections.

In five months, elections will be held for the governorship of Tamaulipas, the state legislature and the 43 municipalities within the state. At this time of writing, García Cabeza de Vaca seems to be the best positioned politician of any political party to succeed Egidio Torre Cantú, the current governor and a member of the PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional) party.

An interesting recent development is that the PAN has entered into an unprecedented alliance with the PRD (Partido Revolucionario Democrático), the leading left-wing party in Mexico.

There are other contenders for the nomination within the PAN: Mayor Carlos Cantu Rosas of Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros Mayor Leticia Ramos Salazar, for example. The selection of candidates for the June 5 election will be made via a direct appointment by the PAN Executive Committee.

The proximity of García Cabeza de Vaca to the PAN National Executive Committee augers well for him, as does the support he enjoys from members of the PRD from Tamaulipas, who have repeatedly stated that the Senator is their key to wrestling power from PRI in Tamaulipas.

Another factor that could favor this unusual alliance is the long suffering of Tamaulipas residents, due to in part to the heavy security situation in the state.

Far from offering results, the PRI government has been deeply discredited by allegations emanating in the United States against the two most recent Tamaulipas governors: Tomás Jesús Yarrington Ruvalcaba and Eugenio Javier Hernández Flores, both accused of money laundering for drug cartels.

In the following weeks García Cabeza de Vaca is likely to face strong accusations in an attempt to discredit and hinder his path to the governorship, either as a candidate of the PAN or as an official candidate if he gets the nomination.

It will not be surprising to see again the image of a young Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca being arrested and accused of stealing weapons, events that were first disclosed in 1986. That case was closed that same year but is still used to trash the politician every time he considers running for elected office.

Also, recently, several media outlets have reported that according to statements of an alleged protected Drug Enforcement Agency witness, the then candidate for mayor of Reynosa, García Cabeza de Vaca, received half a million dollars from the hands of representatives of the Gulf Cartel, as an investment to ensure control of the municipal police, once he had won the election. That money was allegedly delivered by direct instructions from the then Governor Tomás Jesús Yarrington Ruvalcaba.

The truth is that a funny thing happens every time García Cabeza de Vaca’s opponents decide to launch a full-frontal attack: his popularity grows. The Senator has shown a thick skin throughout his political career and these kinds of accusations are more an incentive than an obstacle for his political aspirations.

In the meantime, he has already taken steps towards improving Tamaulipas-Texas relations, as the photos he posted on social media have shown.

Editor’s Note: Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca is pictured in the main image accompanying this guest column.