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Eduardo Leite wins governorship in Rio Grande do Sul

With 99.86 percent of ballots counted, Eduardo Leite won the runoff election in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul on Sunday with 57.11 percent of the votes. With the victory, Mr. Leite became the first governor to win re-election in the state. His opponent, Onyx Lorenzoni, who held several cabinet positions in the Bolsonaro government, had 42.89 percent of the total vote.

Mr. Leite achieved the feat of winning re-election while out of office and as the underdog. The candidate had resigned from his post in March to try to run for president for the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB). After being pushed aside by the party’s top brass, Mr. Leite announced that he would run again for Rio Grande do Sul’s governor position.

The PSDB candidate defeated Mr. Lorenzoni, supported by President Jair Bolsonaro and who had been ahead in the first round.

The current governor was immediately pressured to accept an exchange of support between the PSDB and the Workers’ Party: he would support the former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for the presidency and, in return, he would receive support from Edegar Pretto, the Workers ‘ Party candidate for Rio Grande do Sul in the first round.

Mr. Leite broke his promise of announcing support for a presidential candidate and remained neutral in the dispute. Even so, the Workers’ Party announced a front against Mr. Lorenzoni and voted for Mr. Leite to defend “democracy and the fight against Bolsonarism.”

In the last debate, on Thursday, Mr. Lorenzoni justified that he did not get a vaccine against Covid-19 because “the best vaccine is catching the disease,” which generated strong negative repercussions on social media, and potentially lost him the election.

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