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Story Archives: Jindal's opponent yet to surface
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|Jindal's opponent yet to surface|
The $64,000 question making the rounds in political circles these days concerns Gov. Bobby Jindal's opponent in the fall elections.
Over and over the question runs along this line: "Are you hearing anything about who might run against Bobby?"
Instead of inquiring about who may or may not be making plans to oppose Jindal in the fall elections, the question should be framed a bit differently. Such as who in their right mind would attempt to mount a campaign against an incumbent governor whose approval ratings remain in the low 60-percentile range and whose re-elect numbers hover in the upper 50s?
When Jindal files his campaign finance report on Feb. 15 it will show he had some $9 million in cash on hand as of Dec. 31, 2010. It also will show he has raised more than $11 million for his 2011 re-election campaign. Don't forget about that $9 million in cash on hand, which could conceivably swell to more than $10 million by the fall.
As someone who has dallied about in a campaign or two over the past 15-20 years, take it from me – any incumbent governor in Louisiana who's sitting on $9 million some nine months before the election would be nearly impossible to unseat. That would be the case because $9 million is more than enough money to buy a boatload of direct mail advertising, radio advertising and television advertising to answer any charges an opponent may level toward an incumbent. It's also more than sufficient funding to employ countless campaign workers to engage in the most effective tool that exists in politics – grassroots campaigning in every nook and cranny in every community in the state.
That's not to say the impossible can't or won't occur. Remember, anything is possible in politics in America. If the late Lee Fletcher was around, he would remind all of us that he held a 13-point lead over then-state Rep. Rodney Alexander some eight days before election day in 2002 in the 5th District congressional race. Alexander prevailed by less than 1,000 votes.
Jindal's circumstances, though, don't compare to the ones Fletcher and Alexander dealt with more than eight years ago.
With the state facing a $1.6-billion revenue shortfall heading into the 2011-2012 fiscal year, Jindal faces some political potholes that could pose problems for the governor's bid to secure a second, four-year term. Chief among them is how deeply will Jindal cut spending in piecing together a budget for state lawmakers to consider during the regular legislative session.
While there are thousands of voters among us in Louisiana who would like to see the size and scope of government shrink, there are thousands of voters in Louisiana who put food on their tables each night courtesy of government's largesse. Of course, that's a reference to the thousands of state employees who rely on a paycheck from government. Any reduction in the role government plays in our lives represents a threat to their financial security.
Let's not forget about the thousands of men and women in the private sector who make money off state government. They, too, suffer the consequences when state government spends less.
Add them all up – state employees and certain elements of the private sector – and you have the makings for a sizeable block of voters who could cause problems for a governor whose actions tinkered with checkbooks. After all, countless voters make their electoral decisions based upon their financial security, or lack thereof.
Still, the fact remains that Jindal is a shoe-in for a second term, assuming he steers clear of getting embroiled in a budgetary bloodbath with the Legislature this spring. It also is imperative that Jindal communicate very clearly to the voters his vision for the state, regardless if he has any intentions of sticking around for another four years to implement it.