Tuesday, 07 September 2010 18:13

Louisiana Lt. Gov Race Gains Focus As Jindal Races Off On GOP Campaign Trail

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jeffcrouere_150_200Over the Labor Day weekend, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal hit the GOP campaign trail once again. This time, he helped raise money for Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.

During the oil spill crisis, Jindal postponed his book tour and curtailed his political fundraising; however, now that the well has been plugged and the oil has stopped flowing, Jindal is back on the road.

Jindal has company on the GOP campaign trail, for his Chief of Staff Timmy Teepell is on leave from the administration assisting other GOP candidates in the fall elections. Both Jindal and Teepell are collecting political chits that can be cashed in prior to the 2012 Republican presidential race.

According to astute political watchdog C.B. Forgotston, “helping another person get elected President provides Bobby with yet another option to avoid dealing with the aftermath of Louisiana's looming fiscal problems.  His options increase as he helps more potential candidates.”

While Jindal is a strong favorite to win re-election next year and will presumably not run for President in 2012, he might be considered a Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican ticket. If he is not chosen for Vice President, Jindal may be tempted to take a high profile cabinet position in a new administration, assuming the GOP can win back the White House in 2012. Another possibility is that Jindal will run against Mary Landrieu in 2014 for the U.S. Senate. All of these scenarios are possible and show the conventional wisdom that Jindal will eventually tire of his gubernatorial duties.

In Louisiana, if a Governor leaves office in the midst of a term, the Lt. Governor becomes Governor and fulfills the remaining years of the term. Thus, the challenges of being the chief sales person for Louisiana are not the only reason why eight candidates are vying for the post of Lt. Governor. One potential reason for the interest is the continuing speculation that Bobby Jindal will not serve two full terms as Governor of Louisiana.

Based on recent polls conducted by Bernie Pinsonat of Southern Media and Opinion Research and Ron Faucheux of the Clarus Research Group, Secretary of State Jay Dardenne has a five to six point lead over his nearest opponent, country music star Sammy Kershaw, in the race for Lt. Governor. Dardenne enjoys statewide name recognition for his years in the Louisiana Legislature and his four years as Secretary of State.

As frontrunner, Dardenne has attracted criticism from some conservative activists and tea party members. They claim he does not have a strong conservative record. Opposition from tea party members is one reason why Hunt Downer did not fare well in the 3rd congressional district’s GOP primary. Unlike Downer, who waited too long to respond to tea party attacks, Dardenne has been aggressively defending his record in office.

Dardenne has initiated a campaign on statewide talk radio stations and conservative websites to promote his conservative credentials. A website has even been launched to promote Dardenne’s conservative record. The site lists Dardenne’s support for the repeal of the gift and inheritance taxes, his opposition to gambling and oil processing taxes and his sponsorship of the motion picture tax credits, which created jobs and revenue for the state’s economy. It also mentions his support for the TOPS program, traditional marriage and his many battles with former Governor Edwin Edwards. Because of his record as a conservative, the site notes that Dardenne received regular endorsements from the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and was named the 2004 National Republican Legislator of the year.

As the frontrunner, Dardenne will continue to be the target of attacks from his seven opponents. However, he will have ample resources to forcefully defend his record. In the all important fundraising battle, Dardenne leads his opponents with approximately $750,000 in the bank as of the end of the last reporting period.
Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at www.ringsidepolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected].

Discuss this column below on our Buzzbacks.  Who do you think will win the Lt. Governor's race?  Why is Gov. Jindal campaigning?

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