In A Flash
Garret Graves doesn’t know whether he’s running for governor yet
U.S. Rep. Garret Graves (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
U.S. House Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, declined to say Wednesday morning whether he’s running for Louisiana governor, despite pervasive rumors over the weekend that he is getting into the race.
“I don’t know,” Graves said when asked directly if he was going to run for governor.
He then said he doesn’t know when he will announce if he’s running for governor, though the field has become crowded with other Republicans over the past two weeks.
The race already has four GOP candidates: Attorney General Jeff Landry, Treasurer John Schroder, state Sen. Sharon Hewitt and state Rep. Richard Nelson. Lake Charles businessman Hunter Lundy, a political independent, has also said he is running.
Landry is widely thought to be the current frontrunner for the job. But if Graves launched a campaign, the congressman would immediately become a leading candidate and significant challenger to the attorney general.
Landry has more name recognition statewide and already has significant campaign cash in the bank than Graves, but his firebrand style of conservative politics turns off more moderate Republican political donors and business leaders. Dubbed the “Anybody but Jeff” group, they’ve been searching around for a GOP alternative to Landry, and Graves is considered one of the best — if not the best — option to take him on.
On Wednesday morning, Graves, Schroder and a potential Democratic candidate for governor, East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore, attended the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report annual leadership breakfast, where Graves was one of three speakers.
During his remarks, Graves said political leaders needed to work together and eschew “divisiveness,” a frequent criticism lobbed at Landry.
“Don’t reward the flamethrowers,” Graves told a crowd filled with Baton Rouge business leaders.
Immediately after Graves finished speaking, Schroder left the breakfast event. The state treasurer sent a letter to supporters announcing he was running for governor earlier this month and has been actively raising money for the campaign, but he’s declined to say publicly that he’s a candidate yet.
When asked in person Wednesday if he was running for governor, Schroder said he would be making an announcement about the race Feb. 9, which one of his staff members referred to as a “campaign event.”
Moore also said he hasn’t made up his mind about whether he will enter the race, though political consultants have told him there is a path for a conservative Democrat — which he considered himself — to win.
Other Democratic candidates who might run include Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson and Louisiana Democratic Party Chairman Katie Bernhardt.
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