A rise from marginal lawmaker to presidential front-runner
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — As recently as two months ago, few people in Brazil other than Jair Bolsonaro’s most ardent supporters believed the far-right congressman had more than an outside shot of winning the race to lead Latin America’s largest nation.
Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had been ahead in the polls for a year despite a jail sentence that began in April.
Even though Bolsonaro always placed second in the polls, his support hovered around 30 percent and analysts said he had likely reached his ceiling. His history of offensive comments and a largely unremarkable 27 years in Congress created the impression that, even if he survived the first round of voting, he would be defeated in the second round.
But then several things happened that helped elevate him to front-runner.