Peña Nieto: A former governor on the path to Mexico’s presidency

Story highlights

Enrique Peña Nieto was governor of Mexico's most populous state

The job catapulted him into the national spotlight

Critics say Peña Nieto is too cozy with Mexico's media

His proposed drug war strategy has drawn praise in Mexico, concern in the U.S.

CNN  — 

Enrique Peña Nieto, the man election authorities project will be Mexico’s next president, was the governor of Mexico’s most populous state. His wife is a well-known television star.

Since 1984, the 45-year-old lawyer has been building his political career.

He has been a state official, a local lawmaker and a political adviser to the Institutional Revolutionary Party

Peña Nieto projected winner in Mexican presidential vote

His five-year tenure as the governor of the state of Mexico, which surrounds the capital and has more than 15 million residents, catapulted him into the national spotlight.

Some analysts said being governor from 2005 to 2011 also garnered him greater attention not only within the ranks of his party but within the national media.

But not all the attention has been positive.

At times, Peña Nieto’s personal life has been tabloid fodder.

He has admitted fathering two kids out of wedlock while married to his first wife, Monica Pretelini Saenz, who died in 2007 after suffering a seizure.

In 2010, he married the prominent actress Angelica Rivera, best known for her role as the domineering tequila maker in the soap opera “Destilando Amor,” Spanish for “Distilling Love.”

At a recent campaign event his convoy was pelted with rocks by students who feel Peña Nieto had been given a free pass by the media.

Weeks before Sunday’s vote, criticisms of Peña Nieto and concerns about the PRI’s possible return to power fueled a student movement that staged demonstrations throughout the country.

Peña Nieto’s campaign has been based on a series of pledges that he said will increase the quality of life for Mexicans nationwide.

Future of U.S.-Mexico relationship

His platform included plans to stop the rise in food prices, promote energy reform, give social security to all Mexicans and reduce violence nationwide.

“I propose changing fear for hope. I propose changing Mexico,” he said in a presidential debate this year.

While his proposals for reducing violence have played well in Mexico, they sparked some concerned among Republican lawmakers on the other side of the border, who worry he may not be as committed to combating cartels as his predecessor.

Peña Nieto’s campaign has said he remains committed to fighting organized crime.

“The law is applied; it is never negotiated,” the campaign said in a statement this month.

8 things U.S. could learn from Mexico

CNN’s Miguel Marquez, Mario Gonzalez and contributed to this report.