Aug 18 (Reuters) - Brazil will hold elections in October 2010 to choose the successor to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is barred by law from seeking a third consecutive term. Parties will formally nominate their candidates late this year. Here are some of the key people to watch in the race. For a related story, see [ID:nN18422654]
* Dilma Rousseff, Lula’s chief of staff and his chosen candidate to represent the left-of-center Workers’ Party (PT).
Rousseff favors a free floating currency and a reduction of public debt but wants the central bank to consider economic and job growth when setting monetary policy instead of focusing exclusively on inflation. She trails in opinion polls but likely would be boosted when the popular Lula campaigns on her behalf. Doctors say she was successfully treated for lymphoma cancer earlier this year, but she may be dogged by lingering doubts about her health. [ID:nN25296739]
* Sao Paulo state Governor Jose Serra of the centrist Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB). With a 21-percentage point lead over Rousseff in opinion polls, he is likely to be her main challenger. Some investors favor him because of the PSDB’s market-friendly track record. He would likely weaken ties with Lula’s left-wing allies in Latin America and cut the public sector payroll.
* Aecio Neves, governor of the state of Minas Gerais. A rival to Serra for the PSDB candidacy, he enjoys less support among the party’s top brass. He places third or fourth in polls without Serra. The party is expected to choose its presidential candidate in September.
* Ciro Gomes, former governor of the northeastern state of Ceara and member of Lula’s cabinet until 2006. His Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) said last week he will decide in coming weeks whether to run for the presidency or the Sao Paulo governorship. He ran for president in 2002 but had a poor showing after making sexist remarks and struggling to control his temper. He also proposed restructuring Brazil’s debt. He is at about 15 percent support in polls.
* Marina Silva, environment minister in the Lula administration until May 2008 and an internationally renowned defender of the Amazon rain forest. She is considering running for the Green Party but is less well known at home. She has only 3 percent support in opinion polls.
* Heloisa Helena, former senator and founder of the Freedom and Socialism Party (PSOL). She was expelled from Lula’s Workers’ Party in 2003 for criticizing its move to the center. She is the only potential candidate that could abandon current market-friendly economic policies.
* Antonio Palocci, a market-friendly former finance minister in the Lula administration and a potential fallback candidate for the PT if Rousseff ends up not running. Once a rising star in the PT, he is still well known but faces investigations over his role in a 2005 corruption scandal involving the party.
Reporting by Raymond Colitt in Brasilia, Editing by Stuart Grudgings and Paul Simao