Mexico’s drug war gets political

A cartel gunmen is shot dead by soldiers in Michoacan, Mexico

A wave of killings in the lead up to a gubernatorial election in the native state of Mexican President Felipe Calderon raise the specter of the relentless drug war becoming more political.

There have been more than 20 violent deaths during the campaigns for the Nov. 13 vote in Michoacan, in which the president’s own sister, Luisa Maria Calderon, is leading the race.

While some victims have been alleged drug traffickers, others have included party activists and Mayor Ricardo Guzman of the town La Piedad.

Guzman was a member of Calderon’s National Action Party and personal friend of the president.

Unsurprisingly in the fog of Mexican violence, police have few leads as to who is carrying out the assassinations and why.

Luisa Maria Calderon said that Mayor Guzman may have been killed for not taking the bribes of powerful drug cartels in the region.

The cartels – including a bizarrely named group The Knights Templar - have been influencing politics in the state for some time.

(See story on The Knights Templar )

One elected federal deputy of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party from Michoacan is currently in hiding amid accusations he worked for the mob.

Now with a competitive election, there are fears the cartels could putting pressure on the candidates they don’t like to favor of those on their pay roll. Town mayors will also be elected on Nov. 13.

The violence has led some to say that the election should be called off altogether – and could lead to parties disputing the results in court.

But the bigger fear is if violence continues to spill into electoral politics into 2012, when Mexico votes for a new president.