Friday, 10 September 2010 18:21

The Louisiana Jindal-Vitter Endorsement Controversy: It's All About Bobby

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jeffcrouere_150_200This week, Governor Bobby Jindal was given multiple opportunities to make an endorsement in the race for U.S. Senate. In each instance, he refused to support fellow Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter. According to Jindal, “The bottom line is we haven't made any endorsements in the federal races in this cycle, in this state yet."
Of course, Jindal has been endorsing Republicans from almost every other state in the nation as he goes from one fundraiser to the next. In fact, in the next few days, he will be traveling to Minnesota to lend his support to Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.  
Why does the Governor feel comfortable endorsing Republicans in other states, but not Louisiana? Even though he does not spend much time in the state, it would seem that Jindal would be more familiar with Louisiana Republicans than out of state Republicans. 
The sad reality is that Jindal is making these out of state endorsements to build up his own political IOU’s not to help build the party. He has his sights set on national office and he wants Republicans throughout the country to feel indebted to him. For example, Pawlenty is a possible GOP presidential candidate and Jindal would jump at the chance of serving on a national ticket. In contrast, he is not endorsing Republicans in Louisiana because it does not benefit him personally.  
Regarding Vitter, Jindal has never had a close relationship with him. In fact, just a few months ago, Jindal was close to entering the race for U.S.. Senate, but decided at the last minute to avoid a showdown with an incumbent Republican Senator.  
Vitter has a solid conservative voting record and has been endorsed by a variety of groups from the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association to the non-partisan Alliance for Good Government. He is leading in the polls and won the Republican primary with an astounding 88 percent of the vote. His major opponent, U.S. Congressman Charlie Melancon (D-Napoleonville) is a supporter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama.  
Even though he is trying to position himself as another Democrat centrist like John Breaux, Melancon is clearly more liberal than the average Louisiana voter. Theoretically, he is also more liberal than the supposedly “conservative” Governor Bobby Jindal. In most states, a “conservative” Republican Governor would enthusiastically endorse a conservative incumbent Republican U.S. Senator.  
Once again, Louisiana is not like most states and for the Governor his political future is his only concern. Clearly, he is looking intently at his national options, whether it is on the GOP presidential ticket or a cabinet position in the next Republican administration. Another option is that he may run against incumbent U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu in 2014. Whatever happens, the odds are pretty good that Jindal will not finish two terms as Governor of Louisiana.  
One indication of Jindal’s selfishness is the fact that he almost never returns the phone call of the man most responsible for his political career, former Governor Mike Foster, who plucked Jindal out of obscurity for a cabinet position. At the end of his term, Foster strongly supported Jindal’s first campaign for Governor, which laid the groundwork for his entire political career. Without Foster, it is doubtful that Jindal would be Governor today. In visiting with a small group of political friends recently, Foster admitted that he has very limited access to his former political protégé. Talk about a lack of gratitude!
Another person who has limited contact with the Governor is Dan Juneau, the leader of the largest business organization in the state, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. It would seem that Juneau and Jindal would have much in common and much to work on together to promote business in the state, but unless a project benefits Jindal personally, he is not interested.  
Senator Vitter will probably receive a last minute endorsement from the Governor. Back in 2008, Jindal gave Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy a tepid, tardy endorsement in his uphill fight against Landrieu. If Jindal had been involved in the race earlier and aggressively helped Kennedy raise money and support, it may have made a big difference for Kennedy and helped him win the election. It would have helped the GOP take a Democratic U.S.. Senate seat. However, back in 2008, building the Republican Party was not an interest of Bobby Jindal’s and it is still not today.
Remembering Sen. Ken Hollis...

Today, Louisiana lost a true political legend in the unfortunate passing of former State Senator Ken Hollis. He was a great political talent, a man of incredible skill and intellect. Ken served admirably in the Louisiana Legislature and was known for his ability to work with legislators of many different backgrounds.

He loved his family and his Jefferson Parish constituents and always placed them first and foremost in his life. Unlike most politicians, Ken Hollis always returned phone calls and dealt with issues as honestly and openly as possible. He was generous with his time and supported a number of worthwhile causes including St. Paul's School in Covington, where he served as auctioneer each year at their Celebrity Waiter's Dinner.

I was fortunate to interview him on my Ringside TV and radio programs on numerous occasions. On our Politics with a Punch show, he was such an entertaining and coloful guest, that he will always be regarded as one of our best panelists of all-time. He was a great storyteller with a tremendous sense of humor, who made a very lasting and important contribution to the state he loved.

Rest in peace Ken Hollis, we'll miss you.

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 E-mail him at [email protected]
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