Shawn Wilson retires from DOTD; no word yet on governor’s race

By: - February 15, 2023 4:19 pm
Shawn Wilson

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The person who has emerged as the most likely Democrat to run for Louisiana governor announced he is retiring from his state job, but so far there’s been no word from outgoing Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson on whether he will enter the race.

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Wednesday that Wilson is leaving his post at the top of the Department of Transportation and Development after more than seven years. His resignation is effective March 4. He has held an executive position with the DOTD for more than 13 years.

Wilson did not respond immediately when contacted Wednesday afternoon about his decision on entering the field for governor.

A plentiful increase of federal infrastructure money has allowed Wilson to boost his profile in recent months, elevating his status as a department head that typically doesn’t engender much attention. In that same light, he and his DOTD predecessors have – fairly or unfairly – been made the scapegoat for Louisiana’s crumbling roads and bridges.

According to the governor’s office, the state invested nearly $5.5 billion in infrastructure projects around the state during Wilson’s tenure. That paid for more than 2,230 projects spanning nearly 7,000 miles. 

Most recently, Wilson and Edwards joined U.S. Transportation Pete Buttigieg last week to formally announce plans to replace the long-outdated Interstate 10 bridge over the Calcasieu River.

Wilson appears to be destined as the only high-profile Democrat to enter the governor’s race after Louisiana Democratic Party chair Katie Bernhardt said she would not run. Bernhardt took flak from party regulars after she appeared in a television commercial that, without declaring it specifically, had the appearance of a campaign ad.

This would not be Wilson’s first run for public office. He lost in a 2007 runoff for a seat of the Lafayette City-Parish Council. He was the deputy legislative director for former Gov. Kathleen Blanco before he took a job with the DOTD.

As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, the Louisiana Ethics Administration’s campaign finance website did not include any reports from Wilson for the governor’s race. Feb. 15 is the deadline for candidates in the fall election to submit records for money raised last year.

Four notable Republicans – Attorney General Jeff Landry, Treasurer John Schroder, state Sen. Sharon Hewitt and state Rep. Richard Nelson – have declared their candidacy. Lake Charles attorney Hunter Lundy is running as an independent.

Wilson posted a thread Wednesday afternoon on Twitter. He did not mention his plans for the governor’s race.

“I have new adventures and goals ahead and it is time to make a life-changing move,” Wilson said in the post.

Piper Hutchinson contributed to this report.


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Greg LaRose
Greg LaRose

Greg LaRose has covered news for more than 30 years in Louisiana. Before coming to the Louisiana Illuminator, he was the chief investigative reporter for WDSU-TV in New Orleans. He previously led the government and politics team for The Times-Picayune |, and was editor in chief at New Orleans CityBusiness. Greg's other career stops include Tiger Rag, South Baton Rouge Journal, the Covington News Banner, Louisiana Radio Network and multiple radio stations.