Bobby Jindalís Second Term and Election Analysis

Posted by root | 23 Oct, 2011

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The statewide campaigns are over, the results are in, and Gov. Bobby Jindal has won a smashing victory over a field of 9 opponents. In other races Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne has won; and, in a race some are calling an upset, incumbent Secretary of State Tom Schedler was elected to a full four year term. So what happens next?

Bobby Jindal has a mandate from the people of Louisiana, and it is up to him to see that mandate through. First on the governor’s agenda will be to make certain that he has the votes on the BESE Board to continue his education reforms. Two key elections remain, one in Baton Rouge and one here in New Orleans. Both have reform candidates who ran first and both are poised to win their individual runoffs on November 19th. Assuming this happens Bobby Jindal will have the votes he needs to push his agenda through the BESE Board.

Next on the newly elected governor’s plate will be the Senate and House leadership positions. The Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate are keys to the success of the Governor’s second term in office. If either position is held by an individual who opposes the governor’s programs, Bobby’s efforts at reform will come to a crashing halt. Look for the governor to get involved in the leadership races in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The sooner those races are wrapped up and committee chairs are appointed the business of the state for the next four years can begin.

The race for Lt. Governor opened up in the last ten days of the campaign. Jay Dardenne was able to put together the support he needed north of I-10 while working to hold his own along the coastal parishes where Billy Nungesser was expected to do well and did. Still he fell short. Nungesser was never able to expand beyond his base of coastal Louisiana. In addition he never gave voters a reason to vote for him. His campaign was about why voters should not vote for Jay Dardenne. As the incumbent Dardenne used his position to show himself on the job while defending himself and leveling his own attacks on Nungesser. The race was close, but in the end Dardenne pulled it out.

The race for Secretary of State was equally caustic. Both Tom Schedler and Jim Tucker ran hard, negative campaigns. The best message in either campaign, maybe in all of the statewide campaigns, was a very subtle one. In his ad Schedler talked about how Jim Tucker fought with Gov. Jindal and that Jindal won. Given Bobby Jindal’s smashing victory Schedler sent a message to voters that Tucker was not pro-Jindal, a damaging message to the Tucker campaign in an election cycle in which the governor was re-elected with 66% of the vote.

The most interesting aspect of this election cycle is the absence of the Louisiana Democratic Party as a participant in the state’s most important race, the race for Governor. The party could not find a credible Democratic candidate to run for the state’s highest office or any other statewide office for that matter. The party needs a full and complete makeover if it wants to participate in statewide elections any time soon.

Now that the campaigns are over you would think that politics has also ended and that the business of governing will now begin. Well, you are wrong. In the world of a politician, it’s about the next race; and Louisiana’s political calendar remains quite full. In 2012 the race for the White House begins for real; 2013 is quiet with a few local races; in 2014 we will have a U.S. Senate race and Congressional races; and in 2015 we will come full circle with an open seat for Governor and races for other statewide offices as well as many local elections for Sheriff, Assessor, and various parish seats. Watch Jay Dardenne, State Treasurer John Kennedy, possibly some members of Congress, some local officials, and maybe a U.S. Senator or two as they test the waters for a gubernatorial run.

But for now sit back and enjoy the runoffs especially the race for Sheriff in St. Bernard Parish. The first wave of attack ads will be coming soon. By Election Day you will definitely know why you should not vote for the other guy. The problem is you may not know whom to vote for.