Governor Doria wins bid to run for Brazil's presidency, polls show him far behind

FILE PHOTO: Governor of Sao Paulo State Joao Doria greets Governor of Rio Grande do Sul State Eduardo Leite before the center-right Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) meeting for the presidential primary elections in Brasilia, Brazil, November 27, 2021. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's Joao Doria on Saturday won the primaries of his Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) to be their presidential candidate ahead of elections next year.

A businessman and former presenter of the Brazilian edition of "The Apprentice", Doria, 63, is currently governor of Sao Paulo. He has presented himself as a third-way candidate, between the extremes of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and leftist former-leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

The Brazilian center is increasingly congested with former corruption-busting federal judge Sergio Moro also expected to run next year.

Polls currently show Lula and Bolsonaro a long way in front of other potential candidates, with Lula in pole position. Doria is well behind.

"I want liberty, I want democracy in our country," Doria said on winning the primary.

"We will defeat the corruption and incompetence ... we will rescue hope, we will unite Brazil," he said.

Doria won the primary with 54% of the vote, with Rio Grande do Sul Governor Eduardo Leite in second place on 45% and former-mayor of Manaus Arthur Virgílio third with 1%.

Doria has regularly traded barbs with Bolsonaro, attacking the president's handling of the coronavirus pandemic which has taken over 600,000 lives in Brazil.

In his running of Sao Paulo, Brazil's wealthiest state, Doria has sought to show his credentials as a competent manager such as by securing the delivery of the country's first COVID-19 vaccines. However, polls suggest he might lack popular appeal.

(Reporting by Marcela Ayres; Writing by Stephen Eisenhammer; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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