Ex-Mexican border governor arrested in write-in scandal

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The former governor of Mexico’s border state of Nuevo Leon was arrested Tuesday for allegedly submitting illegal signatures for his 2018 write-in presidential bid.

Former governor Jaime Rodríguez was the first independent candidate to ever win a statehouse in Mexico when he won in Nuevo Leon, across the border from Texas, in 2015. He left office in 2021. The state includes the northern industrial hub of Monterrey.

Rodríguez is better known by his nickname, “Bronco,” which means “wild horse,” and he cultivated the image of an untamed, plain-spoken outsider.

But the charges he was arrested on Tuesday are related to his unsuccessful presidential bid in 2018. He got on the ballot as a write-in candidate, even though electoral authorities determined that many of the signatures he submitted were improperly obtained.

The electoral crimes prosecutors’ office in Nuevo Leon said Rodríguez was arrested for electoral crimes and would be held for arraignment at a local prison pending a hearing.

Federal electoral officials said Rodríguez submitted over 2 million signatures to get on the presidential ballot, but over 800,000 were invalid, including 7,044 dead people.

They also said he had state employees collect signatures during their working hours, and improperly funded the signature-collecting effort.

Nuevo Leon has been Mexico’s breeding ground for strange and cutting-edge politics in recent years.

Rodríguez won the governorship in 2015 with an internet-based campaign with a stallion logo, featuring videos showing him galloping on horses. He later ran unsuccessfully for president.

His successor, current Gov. Samuel Garcia, won largely thanks to his glamorous but off-message social media influencer wife, and their appearances with music stars. The loser of that race saw her chances fade after video emerged of her in a coaching session with NXIVM sex cult leader Keith Raniere.

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