Espinoza: Will anyone dare challenge Governor Gwen?

Free Zone
Espinoza Free Zone
Espinoza Free Zone

Last week, I wrote in my column that the incumbent mayors of Lapu-Lapu and Talisay don’t seem to have any challenger in next year’s midterm polls. This could be also true in the case of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, who will most like run unopposed in her reelection bid.

In Cebu City, as I have previously said, the political noise had already begun with former mayor Tomas Osmeña coming out of the doldrums and endorsing his ally, North District City Councilor Nestor Archival, to be the standard-bearer of their party, Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan, with him running for vice mayor.

Suspended Mayor Michael Rama already made known his intention to stay in office until his last term with Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia, now the acting mayor for six months, as his running mate. However, talks have it that Garcia might run for mayor with embattled Metropolitan Cebu Water District chairman Joey Daluz III as his bet for vice mayor.

Yogi Ruiz already posted a huge photo advertising himself as a new face in Cebu City politics with the high ambition to improve the city’s image as well as its peace and order situation.

But the political front in the province has been deafening. Nobody is making any noise that he or she will run for governor. We will know perhaps when the deadline for the filing of the certificate of candidacy draws near.

Cebu has earned the title of the richest province in the country with more than P200 billion in assets during the watch of Governor Gwen, the feisty lady governor whose mantra is “ang buhat maoy pasultion” (let the deed speak for itself). She enjoys the support of the majority, if not all the municipal mayors and mayors of the component cities.

Will Vice Gov. Junjun Davide run for governor? The people around him said NO. He is being groomed to run for Congress in the second congressional district of Cebu that comprises the towns of Argao, Dalaguete, Alcoy, Boljoon, Oslob, Samboan and Santander. The seat is currently held by Rep. Edsel Galeos.

Former vice governor Agnes Magpale has remained politically silent after Gwen defeated her in the 2019 gubernatorial election. Her running mate for vice governor was Davide who won against Daphne Salimbangon.

Gwen’s opponent may possibly come from the Durano clan, which has a strong political hold on Danao City. The Duranos have not made public their intention to once again field former tourism secretary Ace Durano in the gubernatorial race. But Ace, who was defeated by Gwen in the 2022 election, might run if supported by a national political party.

In our brand of politics, campaign funds matter a lot. I suppose no one now can match the kitty for the incumbent governor’s campaign. This is aside from the fact that, except for Danao City, Gwen has the loyal support of the rest of the city and town mayors.

With his suspension, will Mayor Rama change strategy and dare run against Gwen in the province? Rama suspected the governor of having a hand on his suspension, pointing out the quick resolution of the case by the Ombudsman. A lawyer-friend told me that Rama called one of the brothers of the governor after news of his preventive suspension broke out.

Rama said in one of his public statements that he would run for governor. I am not sure if he was clowning around or if he was serious. This happened after he and the governor had a falling out over the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit project. So will he run for governor? Let’s wait and see.

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