Ecuador is slated to elect a new president in short order. Incumbent President Guillermo Lasso is not running for re-election. Eight candidates would go on to emerge as Lasso's potential successor.

The upcoming vote tally is expected to be the first of two rounds. In theory, it could only take one round if a single candidate reaches certain benchmarks. While not impossible, polling has indicated this is unlikely to happen. If a second round is needed, only the top two vote recipients in the first will advance. Making for a one-on-one race. One of the candidate's campaigns has now tragically come to an early end.

Villavicencio murdered at a campaign event

Fernando Villavicencio has been assassinated. Villavicencio was gunned down at a political rally located at a school in the nation's capital of Quito. The assassin reportedly died in the ensuing aftermath. Villavicencio had earlier claimed that he was the target of an assassination attempt the year before.

Outgoing President Lasso indicated that organized crime was to blame for the murder. Historically, Ecuador was generally considered a peaceful country. But in more recent years, its geographic position between cocaine hot spots Colombia and Peru has changed things. Corruption has also taken root among some government officials.

The drug trade and corruption were two topics that Villavicencio vocally condemned.

Whether or not that had anything to do with his death is at present unclear. A day before, he'd also made a report to Ecuador's Ministry of Justice about an unidentified oil company.

Villavicencio was running with the backing of the Movimiento Construye (Build Movement) political party. He'd previously been closely associated with two other political parties beforehand.

The first was Movimiento de Unindad Plurinacional Pachakutik - Nuevo Pais (Pachakutik Plurinational Unity Movement - New Country). Followed by Movimiento Concertacion (Coalition Movement).

Former Public Administration Secretary and National Assemblywoman Luisa Gonzalez is generally expected to advance to a potential second round.

But who the second candidate might be has seemed much more up for grabs. Polls typically showed Villavicencio in about fourth place. But polling in July had shown him moving into second place, making the cut for the next round. Former Ecuadorian Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner and businessman Jan Topic are others evidently in contention.

Was formerly a journalist

Fernando Villavicencio was a native of Alausi in central Ecuador. He would later be educated abroad at the Cooperative University of Colombia. Villavicencio's studies primarily focused on communications and journalism.

Villavicencio worked for the national oil company Petroecuador before being dismissed during the Presidency of Jamil Mahuad.

He then joined El Universo, one of Ecuador's biggest newspapers. He became known as a prominent critic of President Gustavo Noboa's administration. Though Villavicencio's objectivity and credibility would be questioned by many, given El Universo's political ties.

Later, he was a staffer for National Assemblyman Clever Jimenez. Both Jimenez and Villavicencio were vocal opponents of President Rafael Correa, whom they accused of being corrupt. This led to a prison sentence for Villavicencio for libel, though Correa has since been convicted of bribery.

Villavicencio eventually won a seat in the National Assembly of Ecuador. But his legal entanglements with Correa were far from over, including his fleeing at times to the United States and Peru, even hiding in the Amazon jungle. In the end, a judge dismissed the charges against Villavicencio and Jimenez.

Villavicencio was married to Veronica Sarauz. They had five children together.