The winner of the election triumphed largely thanks to his glamorous, but off-message YouTube influencer wife, and their appearances with music stars. The loser saw her chances fade after video emerged of her in a coaching session with NXIVM sex cult leader Keith Raniere.
It sounds like an election that could have happened in some parts of California, but it was the governorship race in Mexico’s northern border state of Nuevo Leon that proved the most revelatory of Sunday’s congressional, state and local races.
The apparent winner of the race, Samuel Garcia, 33, is a baby-faced former senator whose wife, Mariana Rodriguez, is better known for posting videos of herself giving makeup tutorials or clutching a small dog.
She has 44,500 subscribers to her YouTube channel and some of her videos get nearly 1 million views.
The couple rocketed to fame across Mexico after they posted a video of Garcia and Rodriguez sitting in a car as he named the towns where they had visited on campaign stops. Rodriguez appears to ignore him and then, apparently seeking to change the subject, she turns the camera on herself and says: “Do you want to see my sneakers?” The focus shifts to her phosphorescent orange sneakers as Rodriguez proudly purrs “Fosfo, Fosfo.”
Not coincidentally, orange is the branding color of Garcia’s small Citizen’s Movement party. Rodriguez has since made her orange sneakers a trademark fashion statement.
It was not necessarily Rodriguez — who fell off a skateboard at one campaign stop — that was the ditzy one of the couple.
Garcia himself drew howls in largely impoverished Mexico when, describing what he called his tough upbringing, he recalled how his businessman father used to make him play golf with dad on weekends before allowing him to go out partying during his student years. He also tumbled to the ground while trying to toss a soccer ball.
The couple also ruffled feathers when they appeared singing and dancing with “alternative” rock musicians.
Yet, they were hardly the only oddballs in the race for the Nuevo Leon governorship.
Clara Luz Flores, the candidate for Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s MORENA party who came in third in the race, raised eyebrows when she said she had met with Raniere, the convicted leader of the NXIVM cult, which had a strong presence in Nuevo Leon.
Nuevo Leon has been Mexico’s breeding ground for strange and cutting-edge politics in the past few years. Six years ago, now outgoing Nuevo Leon Governor Jaime Rodriguez won office as an independent candidate using mainly his nickname, “Bronco,” which means untamed horse in Spanish.
He ran an Internet-based campaign with a stallion logo, featuring videos showing him galloping around on horses. He later ran unsuccessfully for president.
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