São Paulo governor attempts to boost presidential profile with cabinet appointment

João Doria (left) and Rodrigo Maia. Photo: Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/ABr
João Doria (left) and Rodrigo Maia. Photo: Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/ABr

Governor João Doria of São Paulo announced Congressman Rodrigo Maia of Rio de Janeiro as his new Secretary of Strategic Actions and Projects. Mr. Maia served as House Speaker between July 2016 and February of this year. His tenure was positively appraised by markets for his attempts to reform Brazil’s pension system.

By naming Mr. Maia to his cabinet, Mr. Doria is trying to enhance his pro-market credentials, in the hope it will make his presidential ambitions more credible. As things stand, however, the electorate seems split between former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and President Jair Bolsonaro, with little room for a third candidate.

Not even Mr. Doria’s efforts to secure coronavirus vaccines for Brazilian citizens enhanced his profile, so it is expected that Mr. Maia’s nomination should have even less effect. After initially appearing one of Brazil’s main power brokers early in the Jair Bolsonaro era, the former Speaker experienced a swift fall from grace. He was kicked out of the right-wing Democratas party and is still politically homeless. 

Mr. Doria’s party, the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, will hold primaries later this year to nominate its presidential candidate. But the group has not ruled out the possibility of giving up on its own presidential ambitions in favor of a joint candidacy with other center-right parties.