Last year, João Doria emerged as an electoral phenomenon. With no electoral experience whatsoever, the former TV show host was considered the dark horse of a mayoral race featuring the sitting mayor, one of his predecessors, and a congressman connected to evangelical groups. Still, Doria did the impossible, beating them all in the first round. Thanks to a campaign that presented him as an efficient technocrat, he became the only candidate in the city’s history to win without requiring a runoff stage.
Young, dynamic, and uber-connected to social media, Doria seemed to be the perfect candidate. Even before he took office, rumors began to spread that City Hall was just a stepping stone for the juggernaut’s biggest ambition: the presidency.
Doria started his first day in office at 5:30 am, dressed as a street sweeper to help a crew clean up a square near São Paulo’s center. It was a beautiful photo op that conveniently inspired 56,000 likes on his Facebook page (which has 2.8 million fans), and marked the kick-off to a campaign that mirrored the intensity of reality television show – a domain in which Doria has plenty of experience.
Between mayoral events, meetings, and breakfast selfies, the mayor has published an average of 10 posts per day on Facebook. He has also dedicated a large chunk of his time to trips around the country, a clear strategy to raise awareness of his name outside São Paulo. Since January, Doria spends one out of every four days as mayor outside the city he runs, which has provoked jokes from his critics. “He acts like the city’s Minister of Foreign Affairs,” says Claudio, a 45-year-old teacher.