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6.2.07

Solid Jindal support will discourage gubernatorial aspirants

As gubernatorial candidates throw themselves in rapid fashion into Louisiana’s 2007 contest, unsurprisingly some musing has occurred regarding the meaning of it all. Those who attempt this should understand clearly what they try to analyze.

Speculation increases that Gov. Kathleen Blanco, so mortally wounded as a candidate by her missteps in office, will withdraw from the race, despite the fact that she just held a large fundraiser (if not running for reelection, what else could she possible think she could run for and win?). Blanco never has lost a race and is particularly stubborn. Further, at least through the end of the regular legislative session she will believe there is ample opportunity to salvage enough of her political fortune that she can win in October.

For her ever to change her mind, a lot has to not go right for her in the session. Unless that happens, she will remain in the race and effectively prevent any other serious Democrat other than the quixotic Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell from running. No quality Democrat who is not after an ego boost would dare enter, knowing his upside in vote proportion in the primary likely would be less than Republican frontrunner Rep. Bobby Jindal’s and his partisan colleague competitive state Sen. Walter Boasso’s. The GOP dream would be to have another quality Democrat compete against Blanco and Campbell because that almost assuredly means Jindal and Boasso make the general election runoff.

The odds are against a Blanco deferral, but what if that happens? Only two Democrats at this time could be competitive against a Jindal-Boasso combination, Rep. Charlie Melancon and former Rep. Chris John. The latter probably would have trouble making the runoff. He was soundly dispatched by Sen. David Vitter in the 2004 Senate race, Jindal looks to be as relatively strong now if not stronger than Vitter then, and Boasso would take a decent chunk of prospective John votes away.

Melancon might be a better candidate to make a runoff against Jindal but likely still would end up failing against him. This is an unlikely scenario in any event because Melancon is extremely reluctant to run, and Boasso’s entrance into the race should make him even moreso. Simply, if Boasso doesn’t win this time out, in 2008 after a warm-up in 2007, he has two plum contests available to him. One is to run for Senate against Sen. Mary Landrieu, but the possible candidacy of state Treasurer John Kennedy if he switches parties may cause him to hesitate. The other would be a clear, unfettered shot at Melancon in a district in a presidential election year that will be reminded Melancon is a more liberal than conservative candidate of a party whose presidential candidate will be way more liberal that the Third District likes.

While some might believe Jindal and Melancon off-Congressional-year runs are equivalent, it shows they do not understand the underlying dynamics. Jindal loses nothing in an attempt at the Governor’s mansion, but Melancon could lose everything. Jindal’s House seat is absolutely safe; Melanocn’s is anything but, exacerbated by multi-millionaire Boasso’s warm-up signaling his intentions for higher office. In short, Melancon is unlikely to want to expend extra resources in an uncertain bid at the governorship when he may face a tremendous challenge in an unfavorable electoral environment a year later. Despite pressure being levied against him to get in the governor’s race, he is exceptionally unlikely to do so.

What too many analysts misunderstand about this governor’s race is that Jindal has become the mythical immovable object in the field. It is a mistake to think that Jindal’s high vote intention numbers only are a reflection of the competition he is expected to encounter. Rather, they are a sign of his attraction of voters regardless of who is in the field. No matter how many people enter this contest, he has a third of the vote regardless, and it’s almost mathematically impossible that two other candidates will exceed that. He runs and, barring some incredible circumstance, he’s in the runoff.

The question is whether who is there with him. At this point, the only two candidates with a hope of beating him there would be Boasso and Melancon (others like former state Democrat leader and businessman Jim Bernhard and GOP businessman John Georges will find gobs of money can’t make up for inexperience and, in Bernhard’s case bad publicity when he was chairman of the state Democrats especially against a field of this quality), and even they probably are not even money against him. Anybody else is highly unlikely to do beat Jindal.

This is reality and unless announced or otherwise candidates, including Jindal, recognize this and plan for it, that will greatly hamper any success they hope to have in this quest.

6 comments:

LionGirl said...

Why do you say that John Georges is inexperienced when he served a full term on the Board of Regents and has managed more companies simultaneously than any of the other current candidates? Governor IS largely a management job.

Michael Bloomberg and Mitt Romney never held office before running for Mayor of NY and Gov. of Mass. - and look at the success they have had. Do you not think that Louisiana wants the same thing?

LionGirl said...

Why do you say that John Georges is inexperienced when he served a full term on the Board of Regents and has managed more companies simultaneously than any of the other current candidates? Governor IS largely a management job.

Michael Bloomberg and Mitt Romney never held office before running for Mayor of NY and Gov. of Mass. - and look at the success they have had. Do you not think that Louisiana wants the same thing?

Lake Fred said...

Jindal lost a close race against Blanco the last time they ran. There have been many reasons given, but I think the strongest reason he lost was that he never held an elective office. He was perceived as outgoing Gov. Foster's hand picked successor. Those objections are gone. He has successfully run for Congress and has done a good job. Those reasons alone should put him over the top. Gov. Blankstare's post Katrina record has been abyssmal. I'm sure that she is a nice lady and a competitant and non-controversial elected official, but her handling of Katrina has made her persona non grata around here.

On Boasso, I see his ads and hear about him on the news. He sounds like a populist. Until I read this blog, I did not know that he was a Republican. Also, until I read this blog, I did not consider him as a candidate against Mary Landrieu. That may be the real prize for Boasso.

Jeff Sadow said...

About Georges ... perhaps you missed a major point of the column. If you did not have a Jindal-like candidate in the contest, Georges might have a chance. But, at the end of the day, people see somebody they like who has elective experience and most will pick him over a political novice even if the novice sounds many of the same themes and claims private-sector experience makes him better.

And you do need to understand being governor is not "largely a management job." It is a political job very much first and foremost, like it or not, which is why people tend to prefer an experienced politician who they like over somebody who also may be well-liked but is not experienced.

Jeff Sadow said...

About Georges ... perhaps you missed a major point of the column. If you did not have a Jindal-like candidate in the contest, Georges might have a chance. But, at the end of the day, people see somebody they like who has elective experience and most will pick him over a political novice, even if the novice sounds many of the same themes.

And you do need to understand being governor is not "largely a management job." It is a political job very much first and foremost, like it or not, which is why people tend to prefer an experienced politician who they like over somebody who also may be well-liked but is not experienced.

liongirl said...

I look at the problems that Louisiana has faced since Katrina and I believe that Governor is a management job -- not a middle management job but executive management which is highly political AND involves the sixth sense necessary to hire and manage multiple executives. Jindal has great ideas but he cannot stay in one place long enough to really accompish something --

I can see where a non-political busiessman might have trouble but Georges has knows nearly every legislator personally and his regents service should not be discounted.