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Louisiana Gov. Jindal faces host of poorly funded challengers

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Written by
Mike Hasten
Gannett Louisiana





BATON ROUGE — Nine challengers would spell trouble for most incumbents but when almost all have no funds to wage a campaign and are counting on protest votes, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is not too concerned about re-election.

The issue for him is how big a majority of the vote he will get Oct. 22.

All nine challengers have two things in common — a lack of money and disappointment in the sitting governor.

Democrat Tara Hollis, a Haynesville teacher who has toured the state and had ads on television stations in several markets, expresses that frustration in her ads, saying, “Where is the Bobby Jindal I voted for?”

Hollis is the candidate most likely to take votes away from Jindal. But how many votes she and the other challengers will get is a matter of speculation among election forecasters.

Together, David Blanchard, Leonard “Lenny” Bollingham, Ron R. “Ron” Ceasar, Cary J. Deaton, William Robert “Bob” Lang, Jr., Scott Lewis, Niki Bird Papazoglakis, Ivo “Trey” Roberts and Hollis are hoping to put together at least 50.1 percent of the vote so that one of them can get into a runoff with Jindal.

An early poll showed as high as 40 percent of voters would object to Jindal’s re-election. Recent polls show a much lower percentage.

But as Kevin Unter, assistant professor of political science at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, points out “even if 40 percent are not going to vote for Bobby Jindal, he still wins.”

Unter said he agrees “25 percent of voters in Louisiana probably don’t like Bobby Jindal and wouldn’t vote for him in any form. But he has a broad Republican base statewide.”

Like Pearson Cross, head of the Political Science Department at UL-Lafayette, Unter agrees that non-Republicans will play an important role in the election.

Of the state’s 2.84 million registered voters, more than 2 million are not Republicans.

Registration figures show 1.4 million voters are Democrats, 763,266 are Republicans and 670,732 are considered “other,” meaning they registered as having no party affiliation or are in minor parties recognized by the state.

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Cross said Democrats would be the deciding factor in the close races between the Republican candidates for lieutenant governor and secretary of state.

Unter says that in the governor’s race, “the question becomes ‘Will the Democrats actually go out and vote for Tara Hollis or will they stay home?’ I don’t see a scenario where she wins, in any stretch of the imagination.”

Although about twice as many voters are still registered Democrat, many vote Republican.

Jindal has been coasting and with no substantial challenger, “it’s almost as if he’s running unopposed,” Unter said.

Asked about the race, longtime political consultant Roy Fletcher of Baton Rouge answers, “What race? The nine challengers might get 25 percent when everybody adds their votes up.

“It’s going to be the first time when people drop off at the top of the ballot,” Fletcher predicted. “There will be more people voting in the lieutenant governor’s race than the governor’s. That’s very unusual.”

Jindal is “certainly not spending a lot of money on ads,” Unter said. “He doesn’t have to. Everybody knows who he is.”

The governor’s campaign ads are targeted, he said.

For example, in North Louisiana Jindal is regularly running an ad featuring his endorsement by the National Rifle Association. The ads running in Baton Rouge and New Orleans are primarily about industrial development and jobs.

Hollis’ ads also are targeted — targeted at Jindal’s flaws.

But the observers of political trends say it is far too little and far too late to make a dent in the Jindal campaign juggernaut.

Last week, the Louisiana Association of Educators’ political arm endorsed Hollis for governor. The LAE is encouraging its 20,000 members to support her in her bid to unseat Jindal.

Unter discounts the endorsement as “expected.”

“Teachers, and educators in general, absolutely despise Jindal because of budget cuts in education,” he said “It doesn’t matter who the Democratic opposition to Bobby Jindal is, he or she is going to get the LAE endorsement,” he said. “But 10 days away from the election, it can’t mean much. How many people have been sitting on the sidelines waiting to see who the LAE would endorse? Anybody could tell that.”

The Democratic Party has all but written off this election cycle, observers said, and are looking four years down the line.

“Democrats have to be wondering ‘Who are we going to cultivate to run in four years?'” Unter said. “And who are the Republicans going to nominate in a very Republican state and starting with a 60-40 advantage” in voting trends, if not registration?

“It’s going to be an open governor’s race, so candidates will be coming out of the woodwork,” he said.

Democratic Party Chairman Claude “Buddy” Leach has predicted a comeback for Democrats in future years because politics is “cyclical.”

Unter said that unless the Democrats come up with an outstanding candidate for governor in 2015, “we’re probably looking at a continuation of Republican control.”




Written by demon53

October 17, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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