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11.10.07

Jindal untouched by stones thrown from glass houses

As polls continue to show Republican Bobby Jindal with a good chance of winning the Louisiana governor’s race outright, opponents irritated at his unwillingness to take their barbs at public forums desperately keep tossing those stones from glass houses in an effort to keep their faint hopes alive.

According to results of the latest gubernatorial poll, by Southeastern Louisiana University, Jindal will win outright on Oct. 20. He has just a shade under 50 percent of the registered vote, but about 21 percent are undecided. Only a small portion of those have to decide on Jindal and it’s all over. His major opponents, Democrat state Sen. Walter Boasso, independent businessman John Georges, and Democrat Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell barely can crack double-digits, if even that. Thus, they know not only must they entice these undecided voters to themselves to finish second, but in order for that to mean anything they have to wrench voters from Jindal because there’s no other source of voters for them and to keep jindal from garnering a majority..

(And that 21 percent probably is divided largely into a couple of categories: those who aren’t that enthusiastic about Jindal and are wondering if any of the others can indicate something significantly impressive to convince them not to vote for Jindal in favor of that other, and those who definitely doesn’t want to vote for Jindal but can’t decide which of the others to vote for. That first group will not respond to negative attacks on Jindal and are likely to vote for him because if the others haven’t done anything to impress these undecided intended voters by now, they are unlikely to do it at all.)

Jindal knows his opponents only can gain at his expense if he’s around to have them attack him and maybe goad him into blunders, so he committed only to three forums (which is about as many statewide venues he participated in during his 2003 run). This appears to frustrate them and actually leads to a role reversal where they start saying distorted, if not silly, things that invite observers to remind them of their own failings.

Boasso already has run afoul of this during one forum attended by Jindal by his insisting Jindal intended one thing about a big expansion in federal government health care spending when Jindal not a day earlier said the exact opposite. One of Boasso’s themes has been that Jindal is “dishonest” for not being “truthful” about things, but this remark made Boasso look silly if not hypocritical

Georges’ turn to look the same came at a forum not attended by Jindal when he implied Jindal for not being present therefore was dodging the public: “We need a governor who won't hide.” He then implied Jindal was on the take when he said Jindal should return any donations from contractors (Jindal is not a multi-millionaire like Georges, who has financed almost entirely his campaign from his own resources.)

But that very day the media reported that Georges, who had made a public display of “divesting” himself of gambling interests and told a statewide audience he was out of the business completely, still directed a gambling operation. Which makes it a fair question to Georges about why he is “hiding” his continued connection to gambling and perhaps he should give away whatever proportion of his campaign fund that came from money he made off of gambling interests to … well, maybe people who lost money gambling?

(Even though Campbell steered clear of jumping on Jindal, in some ways he treads on thin ice as well. During the forum he talked of the dangers of lobbyists and their blandishments. Yet Campbell received substantial campaign support from an operator of a Ouachita Parish water system with over 150 violations while the PSC did little initially to address the situation. This doesn’t indicate that Campbell or any of the commissioners were being unduly influenced, but it does start to strain credibility when Campbell argues for ethics reform when he hasn’t made sure his own backyard is in order.)

It has been the hopes of the dwarves of the gubernatorial contest to use the forums to eat into Jindal’s advantage by putting him on the defensive in them. Instead, if anything the tactic is backfiring as their own statements open themselves up to criticism.

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