Sao Paulo state Governor Joao Doria will seek to win his PSDB party nomination for the Brazilian presidency in an October primary, he told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday, trying to unseat President Jair Bolsonaro in next year’s election.
Speaking at the state governor’s palace, the centrist Doria said there were two other likely candidates from his party “who deserve respect” – Rio Grande do Sul Governor Eduardo Leite and the former mayor of the northern city of Manaus, Arthur Virgílio.
Doria has seen his political profile rise this year after he helped lure the testing and production of a Chinese vaccine, developed by Sinovac Biotech Ltd (SVA.O), to Sao Paulo.
The Sinovac shot, which China-hawk Bolsonaro had previously said the federal government would not buy, now represents the vast majority of shots administered in Brazil.
The PSDB primary is set for Oct. 17, and Doria said the party would meet next week for discussions.
The 2022 election in politically polarized Brazil may well be fraught. Bolsonaro, a far-right former army captain, is likely to face his political nemesis, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, after the Supreme Court dramatically annulled the leftist’s graft accusations.
Neither Lula nor Bolsonaro – seen as the top ranked candidates, according to polls – have confirmed they are running but they are widely expected to do so. That may pose a problem for a centrist like Doria, experts say, as Brazil’s political landscape is increasingly split between the right and left.