With Georges handing off publishing duties at ‘The Advocate,’ speculation swirls that his next move is a run for governor

John Georges’ announcement Saturday that he is stepping down as publisher of The Advocate, which he acquired from the Manship family in 2013, is fueling speculation that the New Orleans businessman might enter the gubernatorial race.

In response to a written query from Daily Report on Sunday, Georges said: “I have no plans to run at this time.” However, when asked if that meant he will  definitely not run Georges did not reply.

After Georges’ failed bid for governor in 2007 and New Orleans mayor in 2010, he said he was done with politics. But he left himself some wiggle room, telling a reporter with his own newspaper that in politics, “one never says never.”

Earlier this spring he told Daily Report that he is “watching the governor’s race develop and has no plans to run at the time … time will tell.”

Political pollster Verne Kennedy, who is following the governor’s race for an independent group of business leaders and has previously done polling for Georges, says “I am sure he is looking at it but very cautiously. He is not ready to make an immediate leap.”

With qualifying just five weeks away, Georges will have to decide this month whether to make the leap. But Kennedy says because Georges can afford to finance his own campaign, five weeks is still plenty of time. Kennedy also says the results of his latest poll, which was completed July 31 and is proprietary, shows the race is still wide open.

“The race is not decided at all,” he says. “I cannot disclose more than that. But I can tell you that a lot of change is going on with voters. The voters are not locked in and are likely to change. There is a good deal of movement.”

As to how a Georges’ candidacy might play in this race, Kennedy could not say. What he can say is that “John is not going to do anything unless he is very confident that what he is going to do is going to be successful.”

Should Georges run, it is unclear which party, if any, he would affiliate with. He ran as an Independent in 2007 but became a Democrat to run for New Orleans mayor in 2010. Either way, the lone Democrat in the race, John Bel Edwards, would presumably have the most to fear from a Georges’ campaign. The Edwards campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

As for the Republican candidates in the race, Sen. David Vitter’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne declined to comment. However, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle says he would welcome Georges to the field.

“John has done amazingly well as a businessman, and he and his family have a long history of generosity to worthy causes. He would be a good candidate,” Angelle says. “However, as we continue to travel the state we continue to gain confidence in our positive message of real solutions to real problems for real people.”

—Stephanie Riegel

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