Brazil's Neves closing campaign cash gap thanks to banks and ethanol
By Brad Haynes
SAO PAULO Oct 16 (Reuters) - A late injection of campaign cash is helping business-friendly opposition candidate Aecio Neves push Brazil's presidential runoff against incumbent Dilma Rousseff down to the wire, eroding her huge fundraising advantage.
Many of the banks, builders and ethanol companies that led contributions to Neves doubled down on the centrist senator last month as his sudden polling surge ahead of a first-round vote turned him from an also-ran into a real contender.
Total fundraising for Neves nearly doubled in September to about 140 million reais ($58 million), according to his campaign treasurer Jose Gregori, a former justice minister.
"We saw contributions accelerating from many of the same donors," Gregori said in a telephone interview. "Financial institutions, service providers and builders ... they didn't wait until the second round of the election to give again."
The fresh cash has helped fund a flurry of campaigning by Neves, raising the former state governor's national profile as polls show him in a dead heat with the leftist Rousseff ahead of the runoff election on Oct. 26.
Neves has already won over many investors and business leaders with promises to restore fiscal discipline, clamp down on inflation and revive struggling state-run companies in order to pull Brazil's economy out of recession.
Still, it will be tough to overcome the fundraising lead that Rousseff built in the early months of the race, helped by her incumbent advantage and an initial lead in the polls.
Policies offering tax breaks and cheap loans to select sectors of the economy have also built up a hard core of support for the president in some industries. Continuación...