SAO PAULO (Reuters) – The governor of Brazil’s most populous and richest state, Joao Doria, will announce his decision not to run for president later on Thursday, according to local newspapers citing allies close to the center-right politician.
Doria, who is Sao Paulo governor and also a successful businessman, was planning to stand in the October election and was nominated by his PSDB party in a primary last November. The newspapers, citing his aides, said he would stay on as governor.
The decision paves the way for Rio Grande do Sul governor, Eduardo Leite, to run for president on the PSDB ticket. This week Leite stepped down as governor of Brazil’s southernmost state, a move that would allow him to run in the election.
Doria has consistently underperformed in opinion polls ahead of what could be one of Brazil’s most polarized elections ever.
According to pollster Datafolha, the favorite to win the presidential race is former president and leftist candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who would get 43% of the votes compared with 26% for far-right incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro in a first-round vote.
Datafolha also said Doria had dropped to 2% last week from 4% in December.
(Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Alex Richardson)