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Thursday, 23 December 2010 16:36
Louisiana Elections Season 2011 Starts With Governor Jindal
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Louisiana Politics-Jindal, ElectionsWith statewide elections less than one year away, there are many unanswered questions. Of course the Governor’s race will be the premier attraction, but there may not be much of a contest. Governor Bobby Jindal has repeatedly said his main focus is running for re-election next year. In the next reporting period, he will probably announce a campaign war chest of at least $10 million. With such a massive financial advantage, Jindal will be a huge favorite and may escape serious competition. The Louisiana Democratic Party is in disarray.


The most attractive possibility is newcomer Caroline Fayard, who just lost the Lt. Governor’s race. Even with significant family resources, Fayard will not have a campaign account to match Jindal. She is more likely to run for a lesser statewide office in an attempt to build her political resume. Other Democrats being mentioned include former Governor Kathleen Blanco, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and Shaw Group CEO Jim Bernhard.

 

Another possibility is a contender from the political right. Many conservatives have become disillusioned with Jindal’s tenure as Governor. His record in Baton Rouge is not as reform oriented as many expected when he was elected. The state bureaucracy is still in place and no major reforms have been enacted to deal with the crisis in healthcare and higher education. His signature reform legislation, the ethics bill, was not as comprehensive as many wanted, leaving major omissions in reporting requirements for the executive branch of government.

 

State Treasurer John Kennedy has scored plenty of political points with his comprehensive budget reform plan. Kennedy has been making the rounds on statewide media and speaking to local civic and political organizations. While he is becoming more popular, Kennedy would face a tremendous challenge in a race for Governor.  It is always difficult to beat an incumbent, especially one with ten million dollars in the bank. According to one Kennedy insider, the State Treasurer has the “job he wants” right now. At some point, in the future, however, it will be no surprise to see John Kennedy as a candidate for Governor.

 

While the Governor’s race may be a snoozer, the office of Secretary of State could attract plenty of attention. On November 29, Tom Schedler was sworn in as the new Louisiana Secretary of State, replacing Jay Dardenne who was elected Lt. Governor. Schedler will serve the final year of Dardenne’s term and will likely run for re-election next fall for a full four year term. Schedler served as Dardenne’s First Assistant for the past three years and had been a member of the Louisiana State Senate and the Slidell City Council. While Schedler has strong credentials for the position, he is relatively unknown across the state. Since he has never run for statewide office, Schedler will surely face opposition in next year’s election. In recent weeks, State Representative Walker Hines (R-New Orleans) announced his interest in the race. Hines is preparing for the campaign by raising money and putting a management team together. Hines is the youngest member of the Louisiana Legislature and is only 26 years old; however, he should be able to raise significant campaign contributions. His Uptown district includes many major donors to political campaigns and his father, attorney Bill Hines, is a well connected leader of the New Orleans business community. State Representative Hines recently switched to the Republican Party in preparation for the statewide race. Last month’s election only verified the conservative direction of statewide politics. All of the statewide elected officials are Republicans except for Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, who is also considering a switch to the GOP to prevent a challenge this fall. Along with Schedler and Hines, outgoing Congressman Joseph Cao (R-New Orleans) and former Elections Commissioner Suzanne Haik Terrell are looking closely at the race for Secretary of State.

 

The other interesting race to watch will be Lt. Governor. Jay Dardenne will be in office for less than one year before facing another election.  While Dardenne defeated Democratic attorney Caroline Fayard in the November runoff, she was the best performing Democratic candidate in this year’s statewide election. Fayard is currently weighing her options and may decide to challenge Dardenne again. Former interim Lt. Governor Scott Angelle, who switched to the Republican Party, is also considering the race. Angelle is currently the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources. He was initially appointed to that position by former Governor Kathleen Blanco and was retained by Governor Bobby Jindal.

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