Former Colombian president Iván Duque (2018-2022) endorses the potential pre-candidacy of Jaime Pumarejo for the 2026 presidential elections. Pumarejo, who will finish his term as the mayor of Barranquilla on December 31, has received support from Duque as a potential candidate.
Even though President Gustavo Petro’s term is not yet halfway through, some names have begun to circulate as potential candidates for the 2026 presidential race. The presidential elections in Colombia in 2026 are scheduled for the first round on May 31.
In addition to names like Daniel Quintero, the former mayor of Medellin until October, or Claudia López, who will conclude her term as the mayor of Bogotá at the end of this year, other figures, such as Senator María Fernanda Cabal from the conservative Centro Democrático, and the current mayor of Barranquilla, Jaime Pumarejo, are being considered.
Right-wing seeks a candidate
While it is too early to confirm anything given the distance from the electoral event, it is evident that the Colombian right is searching for a leader with the potential to reclaim the presidency. Following the resounding failure in the 2022 presidential elections, where they failed to place their candidate in the second round, the reconstruction of the conservative space in the country has begun.
Various names have been mentioned so far. Senator María Fernanda Cabal has been the first to officially announce her candidacy from the conservative space. Active on social media, Cabal is known for her outspoken parliamentary interventions. She has publicly supported the far-right party Vox in Spain and the candidacy of Javier Milei in the upcoming Argentine elections. Cabal is likely to have the support of the most right-wing representatives within her party.
In this context, the dance of possible names to lead the Colombian right has just begun. Recently, former Colombian President Iván Duque expressed his preference for the current mayor of Barranquilla, Jaime Pumarejo, on his social media account. Although Pumarejo has not directly commented, he could be a consensus figure with more chances to lead a right-wing candidacy that could garner support from less conservative elements.
“Pumarejo embodies the new generation”
During a visit by Pumarejo to Washington, where the former president resides, the current mayor received recognition from the Inter-American Dialogue for his environmental and social leadership.
“Great meeting in Washington D.C. with the mayor of Barranquilla, @jaimepumarejo, who was recognized by the Inter-American Dialogue. His projection embodies a new generation that, from the center, wants to defeat populism and demagogy in 2026,” wrote Iván Duque on his social media account.
According to the former president, Pumarejo’s commitment is “to do for Colombia what he did for Barranquilla,” referring to his performance as mayor, which allowed him to finish his term as the local leader with the highest citizen approval in Colombia.
Who is Jaime Pumarejo?
Jaime Pumarejo, 42 years old, is an information systems administrator. He briefly served as the Minister of Housing in 2017 during the presidency of Juan Manuel Santos. His political career began under the mentorship of Elsa Noguera, who was also the mayor of Barranquilla and currently serves as the regional governor in Atlántico. Pumarejo is the son and grandson of Barranquilla mayors and assumed office after a clear victory in the 2019 elections, securing more than 62% of the votes.
He became mayor with the endorsement of the Cambio Radical party, led nationally by former Vice President Germán Vargas Lleras, and in the Caribbean region by the veteran Fuad Char, head of the Char family clan. In January 2020, he took office as the local leader, receiving the position from Alejandro Char, precisely the person he will hand over the mayorship to at the end of this year.
Identified by some opposition sectors as a “straw man” for the powerful Char family, which dominates politics in the Colombian coastal region, Pumarejo was selected by the British multinational Ingersoll Rand to be part of its Leaders Development Program. From there, he held positions in the United States and Singapore.