Of course, Billy Nungesser and John Schroder are certainly still quite viable gubernatorial candidates for next year’s race, so this isn’t meant to dismiss either.
But the rumor mill has been turning a bit this week, and what it’s pointing to is Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson emerging as something of a “unity” candidate on the Democrat side – Wilson is black, but he’s also John Bel Edwards’ man and has the blessing of Edwards’ ruling cabal of lobbyists and assorted insiders.
Wilson hasn’t announced yet, and he’s making cryptic comments which seem like mistakes. For example, from Jeremy Alford’s latest LA Politics column…
Will Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson run for governor next year? Right now the answer seems to be a solid maybe. “I’m not ready to say it’s not true,” Wilson said in an interview last week.
A registered Democrat with a Ph.D. in public policy, Wilson was born and raised in New Orleans, but calls Lafayette home these days. Should he enter the race for governor, he would become the first declared Black candidate.
Aside from possibly having access to the political apparatus of Gov. John Bel Edwards, Wilson currently oversees a department that works with stakeholders, like contractors and engineers, who also happen to be among the state’s top donors.
Last week, Wilson appeared on the Jim Engster Show and was asked about the rumors that he wants to replace Edwards.
“Public service is an amazing thing,” Wilson said. “We’ll see what the future holds. Not making any promises or trying to create any speculation.”
Engster replied on the air, “More than a few people have told me Democrats’ best opportunity in this race is for Shawn Wilson to run, and we’ll see. Sounds like he is actually considering it.”
Wilson replied only with a laugh.
Just say you’re running and be done with it. Nobody is impressed with these little teases. Politicians aren’t rock stars or movie actors, and these little antics stopped being cute 20 years ago.
But the other potential entry is Bill Cassidy, who is said to be holding a big fundraiser in St. Tammany Parish next week in preparation for announcing his own run.
Cassidy running for governor is a headscratcher. Where he gets the idea that there is any demand for him to be governor is a real mystery, but he’s been trying to gin up that demand for months. Back in the spring Cassidy had a little media blitz, mostly driven by a couple of stories in the Advocate postulating him as a middle-of-the-road option voters might like. Then a couple of polls were done on the race showing minimal support for a Cassidy candidacy and that talk seemed to fall away.
But now it’s back and apparently it’s real.
If Cassidy gets in, he’ll have the ability to raise a good amount of money outside of Louisiana. That might make Nungesser unviable and send him back to running for re-election as Lt. Governor. Cassidy might have less of an effect on Schroder, who’s positioned to his right.
The real question is, if Wilson is in the race and presumably soaking up some 30-something percent of the vote as a black Democrat and thus nailing down a spot in the runoff, how Bill Cassidy expects to get through the primary? Does he think Landry and Schroder split the conservative vote more or less equally and that opens up a “moderate” lane he can win from?
We see no reason to believe that’ll happen.
It’s a vanity sucker play, and it’ll end in sadness for him. Finishing out of the runoff for governor while a sitting senator would be a humiliating prospect a politician worth his salt wouldn’t think of risking, but that’s the word we’re getting.
And as of right now we see little reason to think Jeff Landry beating Shawn Wilson in a runoff in a bit more than a year won’t happen. Particularly if it’s a Landry-Cassidy-Wilson race.