Fmr. Jindal Staffer, Business Lobbyist Eyes Run for Governor
Sources who spoke anonymously on Monday night have revealed that Stephen Waguespack, the head of Louisiana's powerful business group, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), is expected to enter the race for governor on Thursday. Waguespack reportedly informed board members of his organization of his decision to run on Monday. He is a Republican and has previously served as Gov. Bobby Jindal's chief of staff and executive counsel. Jindal also appointed Waguespack to the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education after he left Jindal's staff.
Waguespack's entry into the governor's race has come as a surprise, as much of the recent focus has been on whether U.S. Rep. Garret Graves (R-Baton Rouge) would enter the race. Republican donors who are dissatisfied with the current field have been pressuring Graves to run, as they believe that Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry is too partisan and hot-headed to be an effective governor. However, if Waguespack is running, it means Graves is not getting into the race, as the two are close friends and share many of the same donors. Waguespack moderated a gubernatorial campaign forum for LABI last week, where he interviewed the four Republican candidates for governor. He gave no indication during the event that he was considering running for the same office.
Republican candidates Landry, state Sen. Sharon Hewitt, Treasurer John Schroder, and state Rep. Richard Nelson have already begun campaigning and raising money for governor. Independent candidate Hunter Lundy and Democrat Shawn Wilson have also launched campaigns. Some of LABI's prominent financial backers, including Cajun Industries founder Lane Grigsby and former Republican gubernatorial candidate Eddie Rispone, have committed to supporting Landry for governor.