Businessman John Georges, who bought the Baton Rouge Advocate in 2013 and subsequently expanded the paper into New Orleans and Acadiana, announced he would step down as the paper's publisher next month, naming the newspaper's general manager and COO Dan Shea as the paper's new publisher. The move raised speculation that Georges may run for Louisiana governor, as he did in 2007, since the publisher changeover will happen shortly before qualifying in the statewide elections.
Shea officially will become publisher on Sept. 1; qualifying for the Oct. 24 primary is Sept. 8-10.
"I'm flattered by the attention, but a lot of this is a coincidence," Georges told Gambit, adding that he had discussed passing the torch with Shea a year ago. "Is there a scenario I would run? Sure. I'm monitoring it, but I don't know under what scenario I would run."
In 2007, Georges ran for governor as an independent (he previously had been a Republican) and finished third, behind Republican Bobby Jindal (who won on the first ballot) and former state Sen. Walter J. Boasso, D-Chalmette. Less than three years later, Georges ran for mayor of New Orleans as a Democrat, placing third behind Mitch Landrieu and businessman Troy Henry. The web domain georgesforgovernor.com was registered in June, but Georges said it wasn't done by him or anyone working with him.
The current field in the governor's race includes Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter and Democrat state Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, along with two other Republicans: Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle. Last week, the political newsletter LaPolitics broke the news that New Orleans City Council President Jason Williams also was considering a run.
"I'm not planning to run, but I'm not saying I'm not running," Georges said. "But who would say they were never going to run for something?"