Tuesday, 18 October 2011 17:45

The Reasons Jindal Faces No Major Foe For Louisiana Governor

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Interestingly, Governor Bobby Jindal has been running like a young, energetic candidate whose career is on the line rather than a politician without any real opposition.  Also, the major newspapers are making endorsements in this race and are backing Jindal as if their support really matters.

Many across the nation believe that since Governor Jindal has no real opponent in this election he must be performing a real “Louisiana miracle”.  

There are reasons for Jindal’s lack of competition, however, and it does not exclusively relate to favorable job performance which certainly cannot be minimized.  Actually, it would be inaccurate to claim that virtually everyone has been pleased with Bobby Jindal and his administration so therefore and for that reason, he is not facing any contenders.  

Many major factors have interplayed which explains how Governor Jindal will waltz  victory.  Here’s my take:

Banking On Jindal

For one, Governor Jindal surely must be laughing all the way to the bank.  When so many were complaining about his out-of-state frequent flyer sojourns to pick up campaign dough, the Governor amassed an overwhelming campaign war chest, in part, laden with dollars from people who are non-residents and cannot vote.   Hence, he ignored his detractors, boarded Jindal Airforce One and created a substantial campaign fundraising advantage that very few politicians would ever want to face.

Since his star began to rise on the national circuit, Jindal was very successful on the campaign trail because his media and other speaking performances were so highly rated.  He excelled whether he was on Meet the Press or Face the Nation or 60 minutes, Fox News or guest speaker for National Rifle Association (excepting, of course for his famed flop after the Obama speech to Congress).  Due to his enormous intellect and speaking ability, Jindal’s fundraising prowess was akin to the Every Ready battery—which kept going and going.  His treasure chest kept growing and growing. 

The Campaign Tour

Had the election qualifying occurred in June rather than late summer we would have seen at least one opponent with respectable name recognition and with money.  The field would not be blazing with politicians because his job approval was high enough and because his ability to raise money was substantial. Still, I believe he would have faced a respectable opponent and not just a school teacher and a college student without money or political clout.

After the legislative session, Jindal emerged wounded.  During that session, he was pounded.  The media saw blood. Members of his own party were disgruntled.  The big ticket items in his legislative agenda went nowhere.  Conservatives felt he and the legislature simply kicked the “budget can” down the road and did not make the hard cuts.  Treasurer John Kennedy said in a Bayoubuzz interview that the budget ultimately passed was “smoke and mirrors”.  Jindal was somewhat vulnerable.

If the Governor actually booted anything it was his campaign into full gear.  While he did not succeed during this legislative session on the big ticket items, and while his campaign endorsements are sometimes the kiss of death, he is becoming a maestro at campaigning when it comes to his own elections. 

Almost every day post session, Jindal traveled to one part of the state to the other signing legislation putting smiling legislators and local government officials on the tube and in the papers praising their governor for a job well done.

During that time and even after, Governor Jindal travelled to the state’s four corners to give essentially the same speech to chambers of commerce or giving economic development announcements which were so frequent that it raised questions as to their timing being so close to re-election.  Not that Jindal did not have economic development events in the past including a mega-deal announcement called Nucor, but the number of such events paled greatly in comparison to the almost daily special announcements made during the summer of this election. .

To a great extent, Jindal rode the campaign on the public dollar while indeed appearing quite gubernatorial during this stretch. Also, the June through September period was not months of discontent.  Arguably, Louisiana government could have taken off and shut down since there were few matters of concern except for a horrible unemployment and bad rain days.

Post-session, one could count the number of critical news stories about Jindal on fingers. 

To his credit, our Governor mastered the power of incumbency during this period so well that anyone seriously thinking about running would have to roll the dice looking at long odds and a big bank roll.   

When possible candidates fell like flies, a Bernie Pinsonat poll, funded by the GOP presented Jindal as a very difficult candidate to beat.  That poll, while accurate, served its purpose as the GOP wanted to scare off rivals.  Both Rob Marionneaux and millionaire John Georges then hit the “I’ll Be Back” trail and the Democratic challengers were history.

There was one other major factor, the Big O, as in President Obama. 

The President was beaten up last year by David Vitter and friends so badly that the Louisiana Democratic Party had to find a smaller phone booth.  Despite Buddy Leach, the state party chairman’s laughable statements that the demos would field very competitive candidates for statewide office, reality struck.  When the elections “qualifying smoke” cleared, there were nada.

Democratic candidates were running for the hills and some were running to be Republicans.

Caroline Fayard, a young attorney who came out of nowhere last year to take on other contenders for Lt. Governor, got socked by Jay Dardenne last November.  Still, despite losing big, she became the party’s “Great White Hope.  Unfortunately for her party and for Fayard, she was caught making a statement at a Democratic meeting that put a noose around her future.  Fayard said she hated Republicans and the GOP loved her for it.  They even turned Fayard’s outrageous comment into a proud rallying cry and a campaign of bumper stickers mocking her statement—“Caroline Fayard Hates Me”.

While it will likely go into the history books and in some conservative media  that Louisiana voters have been so enthralled with Governor Jindal that he scared away all real opponents, such a claim would be partisan at worse and inaccurate, at best.

During the last Gubernatorial campaign, Governor Bobby Jindal was perceived to be the right person at the right time.  He was the gifted orator, a paragon of ethics and a new generational leader symbolizing Louisiana’s hope for the future. 

During the four years, the Jindal aura glowed bright but also at times faded.  One of those times that the flames were burning low was after the legislative session 2011.

An honest and accurate review of the past four years would show that Governor Jindal has been greatly assisted by Louisiana voter’s unbridled anger towards President Obama.  The President’s policies was a major factor that launched Jindal’s national presence, helped him raise easy money and in doing so, smashed the state Democratic Party into smatterings. 

So, when you marry the campaign funds raised, the hate-Obama factor along with the voters’ love affair with Jindal’s brilliance an acceptable job performance and his genuine style and grace, ultimately, it would have been a Himalayan climb for any opponent in facing Louisiana’s boy wonder.

BY Stephen Sabludowsky, Publisher of Bayoubuzz.com


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