BRASILIA (Reuters) - Three people were shot dead and a deputy state governor was wounded on Wednesday when a disgruntled city employee opened fire on a campaign rally motorcade in central Brazil ahead of municipal elections on Sunday that have turned violent.

A candidate for city council and a security guard were killed by the gunman, a 53-year-old driver, who also died in a shootout with Vice Governor José Eliton's bodyguards, officials in the town of Itumbiara in Goias state said.

The shooting follows a wave of killings of local politicians in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro in recent months that law enforcement officials said appeared to be the work of organized crime trying to get their candidates elected.

Eliton, who was leading the race to become the town's mayor, was rushed to hospital for surgery to a shot wound in the stomach and his condition was not known, his press aides said.

"Everybody thought the man was coming to shake our hands when he suddenly drew a gun and began to shoot at us," said federal lawmaker Jovair Arantes, who was on the open vehicle targeted by the gunman.

Sunday's nationwide municipal polls will elect 5,568 mayors and renew town councils. The election will shape Brazil's new political landscape following the ouster of the leftist Workers Party after 13 years in power last month, when President Dilma Rousseff was dismissed in an impeachment trial.

On Sunday in Rio a candidate for councilor was shot by assailants as he sought to flee by motorcycle. It was the latest killing of a municipal candidate in Rio's suburbs, where drug traffickers and militia groups compete for dominance.

In July, assailants killed candidates planning to run for town council in the suburbs of Duque de Caxias and Magé.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Sandra Maler)