Mendoza heads to the polls in key election for Juntos por el Cambio

Alejandro Cornejo is the leading candidate to replace Governor Rodolfo Suárez and retain JxC’s power in the province

Mendoza province is voting for a new governor, with all eyes on the national coalition Juntos por el Cambio. Former governor Alfredo Cornejo is the leading contender to replace incumbent Rodolfo Suárez, both from the local JxC coalition Cambia Mendoza

According to Mendoza’s Constitution, governors can only rule for one term at a time. This is why Suárez is not running for reelection and instead boosting Cornejo’s candidacy, who is seeking his second term: he ruled the province between 2015 and 2019. Both of them are members of Unión Cívica Radical, one of the main parties in JxC.

These are key elections for JxC’s presidential candidate, Patricia Bullrich. If Cornejo wins, it would mean the coalition is retaining the power it has held in the province since 2015. In the June 11 provincial primaries, JxC was the most voted coalition, with over 42% of the vote. Cornejo won the JxC primaries, leaving out his contender Luis Petri, current vice president candidate alongside Bullrich.

However, although JxC has been the leading coalition in Mendoza for the past eight years, it came second in the August 13 national primary elections with 28% of the vote, while far-right candidate Javier Milei from La Libertad Avanza (LLA) won with almost 45%.

In the provincial primaries, Unión Mendocina’s Omar De Marchi came out second with 20.2% of the vote, and Frente Elegí Mendoza, the coalition allied with Peronist Unión por la Patria (UxP) — the national ruling coalition — was third, with 15.6%. Omar Parisi was the most voted candidate out of four contenders from that alliance.

De Marchi is a National Deputy for JxC, as a part of the PRO party. However, in April he decided to run for governor on his own instead of competing in the primaries against Cornejo within the Cambia Mendoza coalition. This resulted in him losing JxC’s support for the elections and creating a new local coalition, Unión Mendocina.

De Marchi is Cornejo’s biggest worry for these elections. Although Milei’s LLA has no candidates for governor in the province, De Marchi has been courting LLA supporters during the campaign.

Unión Mendocina includes, among other various parties, members of the Partido Libertario, which is linked to Milei. And, in the closing event for his campaign on Monday, De Marchi took a picture with a person who was wearing a lion costume and a shirt that read “Milei for president.” Milei uses lion imagery for his campaign and even says he identifies with the animal. However, he hasn’t publicly backed De Marchi or any of the Mendoza candidates.

The Mendoza results will be key for JxC to show strength in the general presidential election if they win. Although the coalition clinched governorships in several provinces this year, JxC presidential candidates received less support in the primaries (with victories in Corrientes, Entre Ríos, and Buenos Aires City).

LLA was the most voted coalition in the presidential primaries with 30% of the vote; JxC was second (28.2%) and UxP was third (27.2%). However, Opina Argentina’s latest poll shows that voter intention for JxC has decreased: Bullrich would come out third with 25% according to its results, after Milei (35%) and UxP’s Sergio Massa (29%). 

Aside from a new governor, Mendoza will also be voting to renew half of the members of the provincial Congress, and mayors and council members of 11 districts.

—with information from Télam


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