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Former Sao Paulo governor drops bid for Brazil’s presidency

Former Sao Paulo governor drops bid for Brazil’s presidency

SAO PAULO (AP) — The former governor of Brazil’s Sao Paulo state, João Doria, dropped out of October’s presidential elections on Monday, saying he lacks support of top party leaders. His decision narrows the field ahead of a race expected to be dominated by President Jair Bolsonaro and former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

“I am withdrawing from the race with a wounded heart, but with a light soul,” Doria said in a press conference at his campaign’s headquarters, adding he understands he isn't the choice of leaders from the Brazilian Social Democracy Party despite having won his party's primary.

The wealthy businessman-turned-politician became prominent during the pandemic for securing the South American nation’s first vaccine deal and openly blasting Bolsonaro’s haphazard handling of the health crisis, particularly his staunch opposition to restrictions on activity. But Doria has struggled to gain traction among potential voters, according to early polls that show him with low-single-digit support.

Doria had sought to cast himself as a third-way candidate against far-right Bolsonaro and leftist da Silva, who holds a comfortable lead to return to the job he held between 2003-2010. Doria lashed out at both in his speech.

“Brazil needs an alternative to offer voters who do not want the extremes, who do not want the one who was involved in corruption scandals nor the one who didn't save lives, didn't save the economy and who embarrasses our country around the world,” the former governor said.

Since Doria won the primary, his party has been wracked by infighting about stripping him of the nomination. First, because leaders believed another candidate would face less rejection from voters and then because many party lawmakers believed it would be preferable to focus spending on congressional seats.