Former DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson announces run for governor

Former Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Secretary Shawn Wilson has announced he plans to run for governor of Louisiana.
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 6:59 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 6, 2023 at 9:10 AM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Former Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Secretary Shawn Wilson has announced he plans to run for governor of Louisiana.

Wilson officially announced his candidacy along with the launch of his campaign website on Monday, March 6.

In a video posted to Youtube Wilson said “Louisiana needs a governor who will build bridges, not burn them. I’m Shawn Wilson, that’s the kind of leader that I’ve been and that is exactly the kind of governor that I promise to be.”

The following information is an official announcement of Wilson’s bid for governor:

Today (March 6), Shawn Wilson, the former Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) announced his campaign for Governor. Shawn transformed the agency to be more collaborative and efficient at leveraging resources and delivering services - resulting in groundbreakings on long overdue improvements to our roadways, railways, ports, and bridges. Under his leadership, Louisiana is currently making the largest infrastructure investment in state history. Major investments are underway in every corner of the state. This success and the approach he uses has best prepared him to lead the state for the next four years.

“In the simplest of terms, a bridge is a pathway over an obstacle. Louisiana has its fair share of obstacles standing between where we are today and the state that we can be tomorrow, and the only way we’ll get to the other side is if we have leaders who will build bridges; not burn them,” said Shawn. “I’ve spent my career bringing people together to tackle tough issues for Louisiana. I’ve worked for four different governors for over 25 years. I know the challenges our state is facing, and I know what it’ll take to overcome them. Louisiana needs a Governor that’ll build bridges; not burn them. That’s the kind of leader I’ve been, and that’s exactly the kind of Governor I promise to be. My family and I look forward to hitting the campaign trail and earning every vote.”

Shawn Wilson for LA

Wilson’s retirement from the state was effective March 4, 2023, after serving the state for 25 years under four different governors.

At this time, Wilson is the only high-profile Democrat to enter the race. On the opposite side of the aisle, Republican candidates include Attorney General Jeff Landry, Treasurer John Schroder, State Sen. Sharon Hewitt of Slidell, and State Rep. Richard Nelson of Mandeville. Hunter Lundy, an attorney from Lake Charles, is running as an independent.

After months of speculation, the question many of you had has been answered. Former DOTD Transportation Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson is now the only Democrat in a pool of Republicans, several of whom have high name recognition.

“I’ve got two kids that I want to stay in Louisiana. I got a son-in-law who’s here who’s all in public service, my wife’s an assistant principal and I’ve got two beautiful grandkids. And the world that they’re gonna live in is going to depend on who’s going to be the next governor,” said Dr. Wilson.

But with a divided Democrat party in Louisiana...the former DOTD secretary will need to not only energize the more liberal Democrats, but also convince moderates that he has what it takes make it to the runoffs over a more moderate Republican. Relying on his bridge building skills, no pun intended, to get the votes he needs.

“I want to take that same approach to deal with any task at hand,” Dr. Wilson added.

And it’s not just Democrats Wilson needs to win over. He’ll also need to get at least 30% of the white vote which tends to vote Republican. Something anyone in this race will need to do if they plan on winning a statewide office.

“It’s going to be difficult. As somebody who travels around the state and talks to people about the things that they’re concerned about. One thing that I do hear about from everybody regardless of age, race, or political affiliation is infrastructure,” said Peter-Robins Brown with Louisiana Progress.

But it’s Wilson’s record on infrastructure that Republicans are wasting no time criticizing. Shortly after his announcement, the Republican Governors Association released a statement saying, “Shawn Wilson wants a new job, but based on his decades-long record in government, he’d drive the state of Louisiana right off a cliff. Wilson would be an ally of national far left extremists, and put the people of Louisiana last, just like he did in state government”.

“Well, it’s hard to blame the state’s roads and bridges on Shawn Wilson. They were bad before he became secretary 7 1/2 years ago. And he did push for a transportation tax, an increase that would have improved it, and he was defeated,” said WAFB Political Analyst Jim Engster.

Now that both parties have campaigns in full swing, we’ll now get a more clear picture of how the candidates vision for the state differ from one another.

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