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Minas Gerais governor to support Bolsonaro in runoff against Lula

Romeu Zema, governor-re-elect of Minas Gerais, Brazil’s second-largest state in population, on Monday pledged to endorse President Jair Bolsonaro in the presidential runoff against left-leaning former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

“It is likely that tomorrow or [the day] after we will announce our support for the president. The Workers’ Party destroyed Minas Gerais, destroyed important cities like Uberlândia and Pouso Alegre,” Mr. Zema told cable news station GloboNews, referring to previous administrations in those cities.

Mr. Zema was first elected as a dark horse candidate in 2018, defeating then-incumbent Governor Fernando Pimentel of the Workers’ Party, a former member of the Dilma Rousseff cabinet.

Mr. Zema, of the libertarian Novo party, easily got an outright win yesterday — with 56 percent of the vote, compared with 35 percent for his closest rival, former Belo Horizonte Mayor Alexandre Kalil.

In the state of Minas Gerais, Lula got 48 percent of the vote, against 43 percent for Mr. Bolsonaro. The results are strikingly similar to the nationwide polls, which had the same percentage points for both candidates.

Mr. Zema performed better than Mr. Bolsonaro in the state, getting over 850,000 more votes than the president.

President Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party had nominated Senator Carlos Viana for the governorship. Mr. Viana finished in a distant third place, with 7 percent of the vote, and will return to the Senate to serve the remainder of his eight-year term.

Since 1989, no candidate has won the presidency without winning in Minas Gerais. Jair Bolsonaro got fewer votes on Sunday than four years ago — and will be hoping that Mr. Zema’s support helps him recoup some of these losses.

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