Bernhard Making Rounds for Governor

 

Jim Bernhard, who engineered the sale The Shaw Group for $3 billion, recently has told several people involved in Democratic politics that he intends to run for governor in 2015. According to three of those sources, Bernhard told them he will be a candidate, while another said Bernhard told him he is "strongly considering" the race.

Bernhard, who previously served as chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party, would not comment when LaPolitics asked about his political future.

The Baton Rouge native and LSU graduate last raised the hopes of Democrats when he was said to be considering a challenge to U.S. Sen. David Vitter in 2010. Nothing came of that, for at that time he was CEO of the state's only Fortune 500 company, an industrial construction and engineering firm that he founded with two others with a $50,000 investment in 1987.

Political speculation about him recurred last year when The Shaw Group was sold to Chicago Bridge and Iron. Under the change-of-control provisions in his contract, Bernhard received $20.4 million in cash and $15.7 million in stock. Later, he sold most of his stock holdings in the company for $46 million and still owns $7 million worth. On his departure, he also received $18.7 million in a retirement package and the use of a private plane for 10 years.

After leaving Shaw, he and other members of his executive management team formed Bernhard Capital Partners, a private equity firm in Baton Rouge.

The only political position Bernhard has held was a brief stint as Dem chairman in 2004 and 2005. One of his most interesting philanthropic gestures was to intercede after the Grambling football team refused to travel to an away game last year in protest of their dilapidated facilities. He met with players and helped to raise money to upgrade the weight room, resulting in the team continuing its season.

Not only his deep pockets, but his entrepreneurial and management record would hearten Democrats who are looking for a champion to resurrect the party's decline in elections over the past decade. Not all who have spoken with Bernhard, however, believe he will follow through on his talk.

Yet his apparent interest in running for governor could be one more reason why the Super PAC supporting Vitter has asked a court to overturn Louisiana's $100,000 limit on contributions to political action committees. There is no limitation on the check a candidate can write to himself.

This story was originally publish in Issue 969 of LaPolitics Weekly on Feb. 20, 2014. If you wish you would have read it then, subscribe now! 

SPONSORED: What to Expect This Time Around

When the Louisiana State Legislature convenes on March 12, one issue will overshadow all others — the budget. It will be the absolute

Alford: Defining The Louisiana Mood

I was eating boiled crawfish last Friday night with my wife and children in Baton Rouge — Crawfish season! Finally! — when I received a text

Rabalais: That Year There Was No Mardi Gras

When the good times (and parades) didn’t roll for Dutch Throughout history, only cataclysmic events such as invading Yankees, Yellow

Political Chatter

— Congressional aide Michael Willis’ BAD JOKE OF THE WEEK: “How do you catch a unicorn? Unique up on it!” (P.S. Happy Mardi Gras!) —

Gamard’s Beltway Beat: Another Shutdown?

It’s a good thing our congressional delegation got their Carnival fill at the 65th Parish a couple of weeks ago, because pending votes on

#HBD TRACKERS

— Tuesday 02/06: Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, Laura Veazey, Stephen Waguespack, Kellee Hennessy, Tom Fitzmorris and Cindy

JBE SAVES MARDI GRAS: Not-so-special session delayed

LaPolitics embarking on annual Carnival break Friday is the new deadline (instead of tomorrow) for the GOP-led House and the

5 Hard-Hitting Campaign Ads

It’s time to review your opposition research, fire up your cameras and get ready to pay your media consultant extra. In this episode, we’re

POD: Liz & The Supremes

In our 48th episode of the LaPolitics Report, we talk to Louisiana Solicitor General Liz Murrill a few weeks after she gave oral arguments

SPONSORED: A Congress Divided

When President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union address this week, it arrived on a Congress as divided as Washington

Lowdown: Your German-Born Governor

We'd like to introduce you to Michael Hahn. He was Louisiana's only German-born governor, a close friend of Abraham Lincoln, the original

Capitol Gains: JBE, Re-Election Politics & Chicken Stuff

Gov. John Bel Edwards was the guest for our inaugural episode of Capitol Gains, Louisiana’s only Sunday morning political talk show. In

Hashtag Louisiana: Todd Graves & One Love For Mardi Gras

Our new podcast meets you at the intersection of Louisiana politics, social media and business with host Ira Wray. This first episode is

LaHistory: Foster and Buddy’s Comeback Bid

Foster and Buddy’s Comeback Bid In 1995, Louisiana’s political landscape was shifting. Frustrated with problems in the gambling

#HBD TRACKERS!

— Tuesday 01/30: Congressman Mike Johnson, Denise Thevenot, Matt Holliday and Sonny Cranch — Wednesday 01/31: Congressman Garret

A Very Looziana SOTU (and Other Chatter)

— In case you missed it last night, the Bayou State owned the first five minutes… — U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise got one of the

Special Session Cat-and-Mouse Begins

— THE BOTTOM LINE… is a bit fuzzy. If you ask the top supporters of Gov. John Bel Edwards, the special session is a go. Working under that

LaPolitics Lowdown: Louisiana’s German-Born Governor

Go pull those lederhosen out of your closet and fire up those frankfurters, because the country that gave us Albert Einstein and Bach and

Capitol Gains: JBE Talks Re-election

Gov. John Bel Edwards is the guest for this inaugural episode of Capitol Gains. He talks about his campaign's fundraising totals from last

SPONSORED: It’s Not Just About Mardi Gras

The Picard Group (TPG) traveled to Washington D.C. this week not only to celebrate Washington Mardi Gras but to meet with Congressional

NEW POD: Hashtag Louisiana

Welcome to Hashtag Louisiana, your monthly podcast guide to the intersection of social media, business, and politics in the Pelican

#HBD TRACKERS!

— Tuesday 01/23: Rep. Julie Stokes, former Justice Jeannette Theriot Knoll, John Diez, John Mathis and Sterling LeJeune — Wednesday

LaHistory: Mr. Long Goes To Washington

Thursday will mark an anniversary for the United States Senate — 86 years since the Kingfish himself took the upper chamber by storm, and

Democratic Group Wants More Elected Women in Louisiana

Emerge America, a national organization whose sole purpose is getting Democratic women elected into public office, has spread its roots to

The Beltway Beat: Shutdown Edition

— Marriage Advice: Don’t use C-SPAN to tell your wife that you bought a new vehicle. — TODAY’S POLITICO PLAYBOOK: As the Senate was