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MEXICALI, Mexico (AP) – President Vicente Fox’s party, which has been snatching up victories in gubernatorial races across Mexico since his historic election a year ago, appears headed for another win Sunday in Baja California.

Many in the Pacific coast state that borders California will vote for Fox’s National Action Party, or PAN, not so much for its accomplishments, but because they see no better alternative.

“For the poor people, they’re all the same, so I’ll just vote for the PAN, because I figure, why change?” said Jose Mayolo, a 52-year-old father of six who was closing up his tamale stand to go vote in the border city of Tijuana.

The National Action Party has held the governorship in Baja California since 1989, when the Pacific coast state became the first in modern history to elect a governor who was not from the former ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as the PRI.

Since then, the National Action Party – which ended the PRI’s 71-year hold on power with Fox’s July 2000 victory – has invested heavily in paving roads, installing water and sewer lines and buying police equipment and patrol cars.

But corruption still exists, albeit at reduced levels, and crime has increased. The state is home to one of Mexico’s most violent drug cartels, the Arrellano Felix brothers.

“Nothing’s changed,” said Eustolia Davilos, a 60-year-old mother of five from Tijuana. “In 12 years, the only thing we’ve seen is a lot of deaths, robberies, and crime. We’re in a bad way, so I’m sticking with the PRI.”

Nevertheless, polls have given wide leads for Fox’s pro-business party in nearly all the races in Baja California, where voters will choose a governor, five mayors and more than a dozen state legislators.

A statewide win could mean the start of 18 years of uninterrupted PAN rule in the sun-drenched state. Governors serve six-year terms.

“The last administrations have lacked in areas but the people still believe in the PAN,” said Francisco Ortiz, editor of the weekly newspaper Zeta, predicting victory for Fox’s party.

The PRI and other opposition parties, mired in internal fighting and intense restructuring efforts, have failed to offer an attractive alternative to the PAN, said Tania Hernandez, a political analyst at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte.

“There has been no real talk about an alternative here,” she said. “There are no other viable options.”

Polls show that the PRI’s gubernatorial candidate, Daniel Quintero, a 51-year-old former federal lawmaker who has campaigned as the “new wave” of his party, has not posed much of a threat to PAN candidate Eugenio Elorduy, 61, a popular former mayor of the state capital, Mexicali.

Elorduy, a car dealership owner, was campaign manager for Ernesto Ruffo, Baja California’s first National Action Party governor. He later served as finance secretary in Ruffo’s administration, leading the fight to obtain more federal funding for the state.

The National Action Party has won governorships in the Mexican states of Chiapas, Yucatan and Jalisco since Fox’s 2000 win.

Because the PAN’s victory in Baja California is seen as a foregone conclusion, many may simply not bother voting at all, said Hernandez, the political analyst. Voter turnout in Baja California dropped from 80 percent in the last decade to 50 percent in last year’s presidential elections.

“It’s very probable the PAN could steal the whole show in Baja California,” Hernandez said.

Two exceptions to the PAN’s predicted sweep could take place in the city of Tecate, where polls show the PRI has a good chance of winning, and the border city of Tijuana, where populist PRI candidate Jaime Martinez Veloz has won support of the poor.

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