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Endorsement holds mixed blessing for opposition candidate in Brazil's presidential runoff

Endorsement holds mixed blessing for opposition candidate in Brazil's presidential runoff

Allies of Brazil's centrist presidential candidate Geraldo Alckmin recoiled Wednesday at an endorsement by a former state governor with a populist streak who has been accused of using government money for political advantage.
The runner-up in the Oct. 1 presidential election, Alckmin is portraying himself as a scrupulous alternative to the scandal-clouded administration of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as he scrambles for support ahead of an Oct. 29 runoff.
Rio de Janeiro Mayor Cesar Maia said a new endorsement by former Rio de Janeiro state Gov. Anthony Garotinho was equivalent to a political "shot straight in the head."
"The picture (showing Alckmin) with Garotinho makes Alckmin's message of ethics crumble," Maia said at a press conference Wednesday.
As governor, Garotinho won over the poor by creating restaurants where a full meal cost 1 real (about US$0.45). The program was continued by his wife, Rosinha Garotinho, who succeeded him as the state's governor.
But Garotinho, a former radio announcer and fiery political speaker, has faced ethical questions about funding nongovernment organizations in return for political support.
Alckmin welcomed the new backing.
"We receive support and we are thankful for it," he said. "Nothing was asked from us but commitment to Brazil."
Garotinho's support could be important in Brazil's third-largest state, a key political battleground for the presidency.
Alckmin rose dramatically in the polls during the final two weeks before the Oct. 1 elections, riding a wave of indignation over scandals involving Silva's party and campaign staff.
The latest scandal involved allegations that leaders of Silva's Workers' Party tried to pay US$770,000 (euro608,200) for political dirt on opponents. Major newspapers ran front-page photos over the weekend showing the piles of money, and six party members face arrest warrants.
Alckmin trailed Silva by less than 7 million votes out of more than 100 million ballots cast.
But Garotinho's endorsement was straining the alliance behind Alckmin in Rio, where Garotinho is tied to gubernatorial candidate Sergio Cabral of the centrist Brazilian Democratic Movement Party.
Cabral faces a runoff election against runner-up Denise Frossard of the right-wing Liberal Front Party, which is allied with Alckmin's Social Democracy Party.
Frossard, a former Rio judge known for her campaigns against drug lords and organized crime, said she was withdrawing her support for Alckmin because of his link to Garotinho. "The fact that he is allying with Garotinho implies he doesn't love Rio," she said.
There was no immediate comment from Alckmin's headquarters.
Rio Mayor Maia, a national leader of the PFL, said his party would run the Rio campaign without Alckmin's party.
"Now the PFL will work for our state governor candidate," Maia told reporters, while Alckmin's party "will take care of its presidential candidate."


Updated : 2021-06-15 20:08 GMT+08:00