LaPolitics Publisher John Maginnis Dies at 66

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The staff of LaPolitics Weekly and LaPolitics.com is deeply saddened to report that founder and publisher John Maginnis died early Sunday morning at his New Orleans residence.

From his first forays in the business — distributing The State-Times on his bike after school, serving as editor of The Daily Reveille at LSU and as a reporter for The Catholic Commentator — to his last, John devoted his life to delivering the news. Through his three books, “The Last Hayride,” “Cross to Bear,” and “The Politics of Reform,” he became one of the most recognizable names in Bayou State politics.

He had worked Louisiana’s political beat since 1972, finding publishing successes first with Gris Gris magazine and later Louisiana Political Review. The latter gave way to The Fax Weekly in 1993, which underwent a name change, to LaPolitics Weekly, not long after. In recent years, John expanded the political newsletter and its digital counterpart, LaPolitics.com, by adding new staff, developing media partnerships and broadening its editorial scope.

His syndicated opinion column appeared in 21 newspapers around the state. He was also a featured speaker for civic groups and organizations across the Gulf Coast. In 2000, John was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the LSU Manship School of Mass Communications.

With his wife, Jackie Drinkwater-Maginnis, John enjoyed spending weekends in his beloved New Orleans after long days of covering state government in Baton Rouge and the election landscape statewide. His fervor for politics, in fact, was overshadowed only by his love for Jackie and the rest of his family.

John touched many lives and will be missed. When complimented on his work, John was fond of saying, “I owe it all to the material.” Those who knew him best, however, knew better.

Funeral arrangements are pending and will be announced at a later date.

Upon hearing of his death, Gov. Bobby Jindal said:

For decades, John captured our unique style of politics, and in turn, his work helped shaped the debate of where Louisiana should be going in the future. It’s safe to say he is the historian on Louisiana politics.

In no uncertain terms, his work has truly impacted Louisiana culture and politics. Indeed, reading his books and weekly columns should be a rite of passage for anyone who works in Louisiana politics. But even more, if you just love Louisiana, and want to know about our history, John’s work is a must read.

John was a fixture around the Capitol, always trying to get to the bottom of an issue. He had an incredible gift that enabled him to uncover stories and narratives that no one was talking about, but would ultimately drive the debate.

His work is prolific, but John could capture the essence of Louisiana politics in a single sentence.

I’m saddened that I will not get to read John’s future accounts of Louisiana politics, but I know that I can always pick up a copy of “The Last Hayride” or “Cross to Bear” and take in his fantastic work.

John will be greatly missed, but never forgotten.

Former Gov. Kathleen Blanco:

Raymond and I will miss our friend John; he was an integral part of the political landscape for all the years I was in public office. He introduced the community at large to Louisiana politics in fresh, new ways and helped people to understand the inner-workings of Louisiana’s political structure. He was incredibly accurate and trustworthy, and had access to information because of the trust he developed. He told each story from every perspective, and because of that he became an important source of information to lawmakers who may have only been privy to one side of the story in that moment. Many in government depended on his reporting to keep them up-to-date. Our hearts go out to Jackie. He will be missed, there will be a great hole at the Capitol as this legislative session winds down.

Public Affairs Research Council President Robert Travis Scott:

John was the perfect professional in his field. His journalistic contribution to the process of democracy and public policy discourse was immense. He was a living forum for the fair and informed discussion of the colorful events, players and shenanigans that make up Louisiana politics. In his clear and authoritative trademark style, John uplifted us with gifted writing and a sophisticated understanding of Louisiana’s complicated and confounding political and legislative scene. He understood the vital importance of both personality and policy in Louisiana politics, and he did it all with a warm and infectious sense of humor. He will be deeply missed.

Republican Party of Louisiana Chairman Roger Villere:

We are deeply saddened to learn of John’s death. He was a political legend, a loving husband and an esteemed writer. Although his byline will no longer appear in print, his wit and his friendship will not be forgotten.