2022 Race

TV presenter says he’ll run for president in 2022

datena president
Datena in 2017, while interviewing then-President Michel Temer. Photo: Beto Barata/PR

This week, TV and radio presenter José Luiz Datena told weekly magazine Veja that he will run for president in 2022. 

At 64 years old, Mr. Datena is the anchor of Brasil Urgente, arguably Brazil’s most popular true-crime daytime show. As such, he enjoys incredible name recognition in the country, one of the most valuable assets a candidate can have in Brazilian politics.

He has toyed with the idea of entering politics before, but never pulled the trigger. “Today, I am the only presumed candidate for the [Social Liberal Party], and I will remain as such,” he told the magazine.

On Thursday, however, Mr. Datena denied he intends to leave his job at the Bandeirantes media conglomerate. On his daily radio show, he denied any intention to resign — except if necessary due to electoral laws, and only “right before the campaign.” He dismissed any other piece of information as “fake news” perpetrated by “scoundrels.”

Mr. Datena’s party is on the verge of merging with fellow right-wing group Democratas, creating what could become the largest party in Congress. In potential future primaries, he could face Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco and former Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta. “If the party holds primaries, I’ll beat them,” he told radio listeners. 

A recent poll by Quaest shows Mr. Datena polling at 11 percent, only behind former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and President Jair Bolsonaro. However, his numbers dip among better-educated voters.

“I will run for president if this new party doesn’t abandon me,” he said, with many interpreting this as Mr. Datena’s way to give himself an escape clause. He has been accused in the past of using his electoral appeal to squeeze his employers for more pay — he currently earns one of the highest salaries in Brazilian television.