Monday, September 26, 2011

Peñalosa Shakes Things Up

Alvaro Uribe campaigns with Enrique Peñalosa. (Photo: Radio Santa Fe)
Mayoral candidate Enrique Peñalosa tried to shake things up this weekend by campaigning with ex-President Alvaro Uribe.

Despite the fact that Peñalosa had a succesful term as mayor, remembered for improving public space, expanding the city's bike lane system and creating the Transmilenio express bus system. Peñalosa should have the red carpet laid out for him. After all, the political left has muddied its image with the scandal surrounding jailed mayor Samuel Moreno, of the far-left Polo Democratico party. a campaigner, Peñalosa can't seem to convince. And, paradoxically, he's stuck in second place in the polls behind ex-M-19 guerrilla Gustavo Petro, who only recently left the beleagured Polo Democratico party.

By campaigning with the conservative Uribe, who is popular but also polarizing - several of high officials from his administration are now in prison or in exile - Peñalosa is giving up any chance for the vote of young progressives, altho few supported him as it is. Peñalosa also recently took controversial strategist J.J. Rendon, whom I see called 'Latin America's Karl Rove' onto his campaign, causing several of his advisors to resign. But Rendon, like Rove, knows how to win - he advised Pres. Juan Manuel Santos in his tromping of Antanas Mockus last year.

Bogotá's mayoral campaign is reaching its final stretch, and only three candidates: Petro, Peñalosa and Mockus, also an ex-mayor, have a real chance. In the end, it will likely be decided by the suppporters of the eight other candidates who have little chance. Will they stick with their man or woman, who will almost certainly lose, or throw their support behind one of the men with potential?

This scenario, unfortunately, bodes ill for Peñalosa: he's got the highest negative rating of any of the candidates, and the Uribe alliance will only increase that negative block.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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