MEXICO CITY - City and state elections are often the most deadly in Mexico. And nothing has changed this year.
As Sunday's elections grow near in 14 states, at least eight local politicians or their family members have been killed. Others have reported being kidnapped or shot at.
The causes of most of the attacks are still uncertain. Some fear that drug gangs are asserting their power. Others fear that candidates are being targeted by their rivals. But it is clear that people are being attacked for seeking office in areas where organized crime and old-style pols rule.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has portrayed a nation of vigorous democracy where violence is down and the economy is improving. But the killings show that at the grassroots level, many of the nation's old ills remain.
"It seems to me that the violence is a little higher this year, though we don't have reliable statistics," said Jeffrey Weldon, political scientist at the Mexico's Autonomous Institute of Technology. "Violence affects democracy and is damaging democracy in Mexico, if no one can run for their party safely."
The cases seem to have accelerated over the past week, and candidates from throughout the political spectrum have been targeted ahead of the vote for 931 mayors, 441 state representatives and one governor.
Ricardo Reyes Zamudio, a mayoral candidate for the leftist Citizens Movement in tiny rural San Dimas in the central state of Durango was found shot to death Monday afternoon.
Carlos Triana Garcia of the conservative National Action Party woke up at 4 a.m. Monday to a spray of gunfire on his house in Tlalixcoyan in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, where he is a candidate for mayor. No one was injured in that incident, though 11 bullet casings were found.