Believe it or not the fall campaign has begun. In October, Louisiana voters will face an election for all statewide offices except our two United States Senators. Many parish and local races will also be on the ballot. Statewide incumbents are gearing up for re-election and few serious challengers, if any, are on the horizon.
Governor will be the biggest office up for election. Governor Bobby Jindal is about as certain for reelection as any incumbent could possibly be. He has been easily raising money here in Louisiana as well as around the country having amassed a war chest in excess of $9 million making it tough for anyone to seriously challenge him.
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne (R) was recently elected to replace former Lt. Governor and now New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D). Attorney General Buddy Caldwell (R) took a major step in his bid for re-election by switching to the Republican Party. Secretary of State Tom Schedler (R) succeeded Jay Dardenne and will likely face the most serious challenge for election being a non-elected incumbent. Don’t count Secretary Schedler out. He is a savvy campaigner and former state senator from St. Tammany Parish. He will be tough to beat. Other statewide officials are in a good position for re-election.
Some of the media outlets are trying to turn the Governor’s race into a race before any serious candidate has expressed an interest in running. Gov. Jindal has been criticized for traveling out of state and for his extensive fundraising both in and out of the state. The reality of political campaigns, however, is money. It costs money to run for public office, and it costs money to stay in office.
The media criticizes elected officials for raising campaign money and sometimes for even how it is spent. Some elected officials do deserve criticism. The spending can become reckless and others engage in constant fundraising when the money on hand is more than enough for an upcoming campaign. In a hotly contested race for governor, however, each candidate could easily spend more than $10 million. That is not right, but that is the reality.
Though the media criticizes candidates, it does not give free ad space or air time to a candidate to espouse his or her views on the issues of the campaign. At best a candidate may get his or her views reported in a filtered version in a news story. Many times those filtered versions fail to adequately portray the true message.
Regrettably, political forums are poorly attended. Sometimes radio works; but, with all of the commercials on talk radio today, it is difficult to get enough air time to adequately express one’s thoughts or message. If a candidate wants to get his or her message out, it is necessary to buy the time or the ad space or to use direct mail or a professional phone bank; and that costs money.
Public financing of political campaigns has been offered as the solution. But the expense of such financing would be huge and would diminish the funding of other public services that many argue are underfunded already.
One day maybe there will be a better way to campaign and a better way to pay for it. But in today’s world the lifeblood of campaigns is money. And even though we rightfully criticize it, it remains a necessary evil.
As much as the media would like to see Bobby Jindal seriously threatened for reelection, it won’t happen. And the number one reason is voters identify with him. That’s why they call him “Bobby.” It’s a personal relationship that so many voters feel for Bobby. And that is the best position for any elected official.
The media can criticize Bobby Jindal all they want, but Bobby is well on his way to re-election. It’s his race to lose.