Remembering John Maginnis

May 26, 2014

It was just a couple of months ago that John Maginnis appeared on WRKF’s “The Jim Engster Show,” talking about Governor Bobby Jindal’s presidential aspirations.

“Outside Louisiana, there’s no serious talk about Jindal being a serious contender,” Maginnis told Engster and WRKF’s listeners. “But I think he’s still a viable vice-presidential contender, a running mate.”

Longtime political reporter John Maginnis passed away unexpectedly Sunday, at the age of 66. 

The driving force behind the website, Maginnis was the author of three books on Louisiana politics. Two of those books are required reading for Louisiana political science students—The Last Hayride, about the Edwin Edwards-Dave Treen gubernatorial campaign, and Cross to Bear, about the Edwin Edwards-David Duke campaign for the Governor’s Mansion.

“John Maginnis covered Edwin Edwards and everybody else in Louisiana over the last four decades, and I think he ranks as the standard for all of us,” Engster said of the man called “the dean of Louisiana politics.”

LSU Journalism professor Bob Mann agrees with Engster’s assessment of Maginnis’s standing in the Louisiana political reporting community.

“He is the gold standard for what writers about politics are able to do,” Mann said, adding, “John is the guy we all wanted to emulate.”

When asked what it was about Maginnis’s reporting style that made him so effective, both Mann and Engster said he was “a gentleman”.

“John managed not to make it personal,” Mann explained. “He never grew cynical about the political system. He loved it. He wanted it to work. And I think he saw what he was doing as helping that system that he cared about.”

Governor Bobby Jindal issued a statement on the passing of John Maginnis, saying, “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.”

John Maginnis, the twinkle in your eyes, and your softly spoken but penetrating questions will be greatly missed.