After a tumultuous week in the Nuevo León state legislature, Governor Samuel García is on the verge of resigning the office to go all in on his 2024 presidential campaign. But his departure has not been smooth.
After soliciting a leave of absence in late November, García returned to the governorship on Wednesday, November 29th in opposition to the interim governor chosen by the state Congress, deputy state Attorney General Luis Enrique Orozco Suárez. Nuevo León’s constitution stipulates that the interim governor be elected by the Congress in such situations.
García wanted state Secretary-General Javier Navarro, a member of his center-left Citizens’ Movement party, to take his place while he hits the road. A coalition of the conservative National Action Party and the Institutional Revolutionary Party holds the majority in Nuevo León’s legislature.
“We’re back home in Nuevo León, and now I am going to … resume functions as constitutional governor,” he said on Wednesday before adding that he would once again leave the post at 11:59 p.m. Friday.
García entered the presidential race in mid-November and earned just 8% of respondent support in a recent pre-campaign poll. The official campaign season begins March 1.
García was not the only member of his party who had issues with Orozco’s interim governorship. That day a group of angry Citizens’ Movement supporters burst into Congress to protest his appointment. They started physical altercations and detonated a smoke bomb on the premises.
Despite García’s statement from Wednesday, some political analysts on Friday believed the governor could be doubting his bid for president ahead of his self-imposed deadline to leave office.
“We’ll see what Samuel does because he would have the option, since he came back to the governor’s office, to calculate whether or not he wants to be a presidential candidate,” said José Antonio Crespo, a historian and political scientist at the Mexico City-based government think take CIDE.
“He is sure to lose because he has no chance of winning and it might hurt his chances of returning to the governorship,” he said.
García’s office denied an interview request, and a spokesperson did not respond to questions about his intentions to stay or leave the governor’s office.
State Congressional President Mauro Guerra Villarreal, who presided over Orozco’s oath-taking ceremony this week, did not respond to a request for comment.
On Thursday, members of the Democratic Revolutionary Party officially requested that Mexico’s National Electoral Institute cancel García’s registry as a pre-candidate for the 2024 presidential race.
A spokesperson for the institute told Courthouse News on Friday that as of writing, the institute had yet to decide on the matter.
On Friday, after the state Supreme Court suspended García’s permission to take a six-month break to pursue his presidential campaign, the governor said on X, formerly Twitter, that the tribunal did not have the powers to do so.
“My license [to take time off] is a right, it is not subject to the interpretation of any judge,” he said.
Political analyst Carlos Bravo Regidor told Courthouse News that García is now lying in the bed he made.
“This is all a disaster of his own making,” he said in a written exchange. “It would only make sense that he ends up paying the price of his improvisation and irresponsibility. But I have a hard time imagining him withdrawing. I think he would rather die trying.”
Mexican political junkies kept a wary eye on Nuevo León on Friday as García’s deadline neared and the possibility for more political violence simmered.
“If his supporters were willing to do that, they surely could break into the Congress once again or something similar,” said Crespo. “I don’t rule it out. I also don’t want to say that it will happen, but if they already did it, they can do it again in certain circumstances.”