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Egyptian presidential candidate: Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood

Mohamed Morsi is one of two candidates to make the runoff of Egypt's presidential election. He won the most votes in the first round – about 25 percent.

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Campaign election billboard of runoff presidential candidate and Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi in Cairo on Thursday, May 31.

Ammar Awad/Reuters

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Mohamed Morsi was never supposed to run for president of Egypt. He was the Muslim Brotherhood’s backup candidate and only came into the limelight after the organization's first pick – Khairat El Shater, a strategist, financier, and heavyweight in the Brotherhood – was disqualified for legal reasons.

Some speculated that this would hurt Dr. Morsi’s chances – he is the frequent butt of jokes about spare tires. But he won the most votes in the first round of Egypt’s presidential elections, with about 25 percent of the total votes cast on May 23-24. Now, the erstwhile backup candidate may become Egypt’s next president. He faces former Mubarak prime minister Ahmed Shafiq in a runoff in mid-June.

Morsi, who comes from a traditional Brotherhood stronghold in the Nile Delta region, is an engineer by trade. He lived in California while earning a doctorate at the University of Southern California and teaching at California State University, Northridge. He has two children who were born in the US and are American citizens.

He rose through the ranks of the Brotherhood to become a member of the Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau, the group’s executive body. In 2000, Morsi ran for parliament in the Sharqia governorate, and won. According to former Brotherhood member Mohamed Afan, Morsi was also a backup candidate in this race – stepping in when the original candidate was arrested.

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