2022 Race

Social democratic presidential hopefuls choose other paths

presidential candidates leite doria
Eduardo Leite will try another go as the governor of Rio Grande do Sul, despite saying he wouldn’t. Photo: Palácio Piratini

Last year, Eduardo Leite and João Doria, serving as governors of Rio Grande do Sul and São Paulo, respectively, fought for the presidential nomination for their Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB). Mr. Doria won the primaries, but in the end neither will be on the presidential ballot come October.

After being pushed aside by his party’s top brass, Mr. Doria pulled out of the race — and on Monday declared he will return to the private sector, abandoning electoral politics just six years after his debut in the 2016 São Paulo mayoral race.

Mr. Leite, meanwhile, will try to win a new term in charge of his home state. He resigned from office less than three months ago in the hopes of pulling the carpet from underneath Mr. Doria and stealing the party nomination. 

But with neither managing to get significant polling numbers, the PSDB party chose not to nominate a presidential candidate for the first time in its history. 

A politician with little nationwide name recognition, Mr. Leite saw his profile raised last year after he came out as a gay man. He made sure to add that his sexuality did not dictate his politics. “I’m a governor who is gay. Not a gay man who is governor,” he said in July 2021, comparing himself to Barack Obama, who broke racial barriers to become the first black president of the U.S. in 2008.