After abruptly halting his presidential runoff campaign on Wednesday, National Liberation Party candidate Johnny Araya announced in a farewell speech that he planned to express his appreciation to supporters by traveling across the country.
Araya said he would visit several communities to thank campaign leaders, who he did not wish to expose to “an exhausting [runoff] process.”
Shortly after the speech, Araya posted on his Facebook profile that, “We will tour the country to thank and embrace each of you who has supported us.”
On Thursday, La Nación posted an interview with Araya in which he said he would head to the northwestern province of Guanacaste to rest for four days before launching the tour, along with his campaign staff.
The trip will begin Monday and includes mostly coastal cantons where the ruling party did well in a first-round vote on Feb. 2.
Araya did not say how much the trip would cost, considering one of the reasons he cited for quitting the race was to avoid spending more campaign funds on what was likely a losing battle.
On Tuesday night, the University of Costa Rica’s Semanario Universidad published a poll showing Citizen Action Party candidate Luis Guillermo Solís ahead by 44 percent among potential voters.
Araya also said he would close campaign headquarters on March 15 and move to an office to support the PLN’s 18 incoming lawmakers, who on Wednesday asked him to remain as party “leader.” In an interview with The Tico Times this week, however, political analyst Constantino Urcuyo called the gesture by lawmakers “a mere courtesy that will last at most a couple of months.”
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The candidate’s decision to drop out of the race – despite Costa Rica’s Constitution requiring he stay on the ballot for the runoff election – has sparked impassioned reactions from both PLN supporters and Araya’s detractors.
The PLN’s top lawmaker, Fabio Molina, on Wednesday evening said he disagreed with Araya’s decision, as did other members of a potential Araya Cabinet, saying “it did not reflect the true democratic spirit.”
Others party supporters said they would still vote for Araya on April 6.
Solís said he did not yet consider Araya’s announcement a win, and he called on PAC supporters to make sure and vote in the runoff to legitimize his victory.
Araya did not personally telephone Solís to congratulate him, or inform him that he was dropping out of the race.
In next month’s runoff, the candidate with the most votes will be declared president, irrespective of the number of voters, Supreme Elections Tribunal President Luis Antonio Sobrado said.