The mayor of São Paulo, Ricardo Nunes (MDB), who is seeking re-election, participated this Wednesday (15) in the inauguration of the headquarters of the Assembly of God Ministry of Belém Church, in the east zone of the capital of São Paulo, accompanied by governor Tarcísio de Freitas (Republicans) and the state secretary of Government, Gilberto Kassab (PSD).
Speaking at the inauguration, Nunes called Tarcísio his older brother, recognized Kassab’s work as mayor of São Paulo and said he was a fan of pastor José Wellington, leader of the religious denomination. He also congratulated the church for expanding evangelization in the state and asked the faithful to include the politicians present there in their prayers.
A Sheet Nunes said that the evangelical vote is important and has a great weight in the elections, but that going to the inauguration has no relation to the 2024 election.
He criticized Ricardo Salles and said he believes he will receive the vote of Jair Bolsonaro (PL), even with the possible candidacy of the former Minister of the Environment in the capital of São Paulo. He also stated that he was convinced of the support of Kassab’s PSD.
Nunes said that the former president’s support is important in order to defeat what he called the extreme left, making reference to Guilherme Boulos (PSOL). He criticized his rival in the race for mayor and insinuated that he has an association with Hamas and the Red Command, referring to photos in which the politician appears alongside the wife of the leader of the criminal faction.
At the event, Tarcísio called those present God’s chosen ones and gave a religious speech about the importance of the temple in edifying the faithful. At the end, from the audience, a man shouted “Tarcísio president”.
The politicians arrived at the location a little before 4pm and stayed until the inauguration ended, around 7pm.
The new temple had all the seats occupied. The faithful fought the heat with fans handed out by the organization. According to the church’s press office, the venue has 6,000 seats, and the estimated attendance was 10,000 people.
The guests participated in the raising of the flag that started the event in the company of the president of the church, pastor José Wellington Bezerra da Costa, and the vice-president, José Wellington Costa Júnior.
Three of Pastor José Wellington’s children are politicians. Paulo Roberto Freire da Costa (PL) is a federal deputy for São Paulo, Marta Maria Freire da Costa (PSD) is a state deputy in São Paulo, and Rute Costa (PSDB) is a councilor for the capital of São Paulo.
Pastor José Wellington —who declared his vote for Bolsonaro in the 2022 elections— admitted last year to brokering amendments to benefit his children, who were supported by the church and had access to millions of reais in public resources.
During a service, he explained how mayors were approached, in a video published by the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo at the time. “The amendment will only go to the mayor through the request of the pastor of the Assembly of God”, said José Wellington during a meeting with church members.
Although he has not formally indicated his support for Nunes for the 2024 elections, Tarcísio has publicly demonstrated closeness to the mayor. According to the governor, dialogue with the Nunes administration “is easy”.
In addition to Tarcísio, the mayor has sought Bolsonaro’s approval. Despite initial demonstrations of alignment, the former president has issued ambiguous signals in relation to the emedebista, leaving the alliance in doubt.
In September, Nunes was criticized by Bolsonarists after saying that he was not close to either the former president or Lula. After the negative repercussion, Nunes minimized the statement, saying he was seeking greater contact with the politician.
The mayor has since said that he is seeking support, despite wanting to govern independently, without pressure to follow specific agendas from one part of the electorate or another.
Bolsonaro may support Salles now that the former minister of his government is back in the race for mayor. In an interview with Sheet, Salles criticized Nunes, stating that Boulos is more sincere than him. The deputy also said that Nunes has no positioning and “goes the way the wind blows”.
Like other politicians in the dispute, Nunes is seeking the support of the evangelical electorate, which has become important in Brazilian elections.
According to a Datafolha survey carried out in August, Nunes is in second place in the electoral race, with 24% of voting intentions. Boulos leads the dispute, with 32%.