Besides the presidential election, Sunday’s vote in Brazil also saw the country go to the polls to choose new governors in all 27 states. Less than half of these individual races were settled in the first round, and on October 28, when Jair Bolsonaro and Fernando Haddad face off in the national stage, 14 state runoffs will also be taking place. Here at The Brazilian Report, we have compiled data from all 27 gubernatorial disputes, painting a clear picture of what to expect at the end of the month.
In the country’s wealthiest and most popular state of São Paulo, a last-minute turnaround in the polls threw up an unlikely runoff. João Doria, of the center-right Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), will face Márcio França, who has held the governor’s seat for six months after taking over from Geraldo Alckmin.
Mr. França was lagging in the polls until the final week when a push of “strategic voting” from the center and center-left saw him pip third-place Paulo Skaf (another center-right candidate) and make the second round. The count was incredibly tight throughout, in the end only being decided by 89,000 votes, less than 0.5 percentage points.
The campaign in São Paulo will now revolve around the presidential race, with Mr. Doria, a former Mayor of São Paulo, already gesturing towards the far-right national frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro.
Rio de Janeiro
In what was among the most surprising results in Sunday’s first round of elections, Rio de Janeiro’s gubernatorial race went to a runoff between establishment candidate Eduardo Paes and the relatively unknown Wilson Witzel, who came from nowhere to top the votes. A former federal judge, Mr. Witzel was polling in single figures for most of the campaign, with the race looking likely to go down to a second round between Mr. Paes and Romário, a former world champion football player turned politician.
The secret to Mr. Witzel’s rise? The Bolsonaro family. In the final debate before the first round of the election, he declared his support for Jair Bolsonaro and was then vouched for by Flávio Bolsonaro, the presidential candidate’s eldest son and newly elected Senator for the state of Rio.
As it will be in São Paulo, the Rio runoff will be a proxy presidential election, with Mr. Witzel trying to stay on the Bolsonaro Wave, in a state which voted overwhelmingly in favor of the former Army captain.
Another example of the Bolsonaro Wave came in Minas Gerais, the country’s next most important state in the Southeast region. Tipped to be a dispute between Brazil’s two traditional political forces, the Workers’ Party and the PSDB, another unknown candidate sneaked in out of nowhere on the back of his support for Jair Bolsonaro.
This time it was Romeu Zema, the 53-year-old megarich business owner from the libertarian Partido Novo (New Party), who shocked all onlookers. Not only did Mr. Zema break the Workers’ Party-PSDB duopoly and book his place in the second round, pushing incumbent Fernando Pimentel into third, but he topped the votes with an incredible 43 percent.