Bruno Covas, mayor of São Paulo, dies at 41

bruno covas dies são paulo
Bruno Covas (left), sided by his predecessor in City Hall, João Doria. Photo: Govesp

Bruno Covas, mayor of São Paulo and a rising star in the Brazilian center-right, died on Sunday after a two-year-long battle against cancer. He was 41.

In 2019, Mr. Covas was diagnosed with cancer in his digestive tract, which later spread to his liver and bones. On May 14, doctors deemed his condition “irreversible;” family members and friends said their goodbyes on Saturday.

Mr. Covas’ political career began as a backbencher in state an federal congress, largely propelled by the popularity of his grandfather, Mario Covas — who served as São Paulo mayor and won two gubernatorial races until he died in 2001 of bladder cancer.

In 2016, Bruno Covas was elected as São Paulo’s deputy mayor, running on the ticket of João Doria — who would resign in 2018 to run for governor of São Paulo. Mr. Covas was the city’s youngest-ever mayor at the age of 38. In 2020, he won re-election with nearly 60 percent of votes in the runoff stage.

In his three years in office, Mr. Covas was a much more discreet mayor than Mr. Doria — and distinguished himself for his stark defense of moderation in the Brazilian political arena. 

Even after Mr. Doria seized control of their Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), steering the political group toward the right, Mr. Covas led a group of politicians more faithful to its social democratic roots. The late mayor used to call himself a “radical centrist.”

He is survived by his 15-year-old son Tomás.

His deputy, Ricardo Nunes, will step in as São Paulo Mayor. A low-profile politician, he battled a domestic violence accusation in 2011 and allegations of unlawful connections to City Hall contractors.