Cortizo wins big, most deputies stave off elimination in PRD primary

Former Agriculture Minister Laurentino “Nito” Cortizo took about two-thirds of the vote in a 17-way PRD presidential primary, with legislator Zulay Rodríguez running second with nearly 20 percent and former President Ernesto “Toro” Pérez Balladares in third with single digits. From Cortizo’s Twitter feed.

PRD primary voters pin their hopes on…

by Eric Jackson

“Hope won.” A fairly generic triumphalist statement by a politician who just won something, in whatever language. But just what DID the members of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) vote for? It would be easy enough to support a case for the same old stuff, but that would miss some of the nuances. It’s easier to say what they voted against — anti-foreign demagoguery, gangsterism, and to a certain extent the National Assembly.

That latter assertion may seem strange, given that of the 20 legislators seeking re-election, 18 were nominated to run for another term. But most of these were in multi-member circuits, where non-incumbents tended to be the party’s top preferences. In the Ngabe-Bugle Comarca, circuit 12-2 party members booted one of their two deputies, Crescencia Prado, in favor of newcomer Rogelio Santos. In Guna Yala, legislator Aibán Velarde was way behind in a crowded field.

Will the party’s new star in the legislature be David’s current mayor, Francisco Vigil, who was nominated for the National Assembly’s circuit 4-1? But surely a fallen star is the mayor of Los Santos and PRD national executive committee member, Eudocio “Pany” Pérez. THAT guy is on the streets as prosecutors appeal a lower court’s strange dismmissal of drug smuggling and money laundering charges in the El Gallero case, but he lost his race against Olivares Frías.

The notorious former deputy and current secretary general of the National Assembly, Franz Wever, was resoundingly rejected in Panama’s circuit 8-10 — four seats there, he came in seventh. His son Franz Wever Jr. made the six-nominee ticket in fith place in San Miguelito, where the three PRD incumbents got through (including Zulay Rodríguez, in second place).

All incumbent PRD nominees may struggle the general election. Ugly revelations about legislative payrolls are just beginning and the #NoALaReelección movement seems to be gaining public popularity. The problem in the legislature, moreover, is that all parties are touched by the payroll scandals.

Perhaps the Panama City mayoral primary is most instructive. The PRD chose its losing 2014 candidate by default — after a scandal toppled the front runner — former legislator José Fábrega. His claim to fame was defending price controls on cooking gas and his habit has been to lug this empty gas tank around as a prop along the campaign trail. Two current legislators ran against him, the favored party secretary general’s nephew Quibian Panay and dark horse deputy Iván Picota. But Fábrega, listed on the ballot as José L. Tanque de Gas Fábrega, dashed the two legislators’ hopes to get into another office and out of the way of what might be a generalized bloodbath of incumbent deputies. Cambio Democratico has left the mayoral nomination in the capital open for a possible alliance with another party, while in the Panameñista Party legislator Adolfo ‘Beby’ Valderrama is seeking the mayoral nomination. Then there is a crowd of wannabe independent challengers for that post, including Vice Mayor Raisa Banfield, the incarcerated Ricardo Martinelli and the out-on-bail sticky fingered drunk driving gunman TV star Guillermo Ferrufino.


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