Besides accusations that his legislation was held hostage to the bill, Jindal said he wished not to interfere with the Legislature and would respect its ability to manage its own affairs. But if just a few legislators begin to recant their support, he could claim that, before the Jul. 8 decision about signing it, vetoing it, or letting it become law without his signature, the actual will of the legislature had changed so he could add to the list above that he would felt compelled to assist the expression of this new majority will by issuing a veto. This is something Jindal could encourage by hinting at a few line-item or regular veto threats on certain appropriations or other matters to certain legislators known to be having second thoughts.
If he got some public recantations and issued the veto, while legislative leaders might be angered, he probably would be supported by at least a large minority of legislators who he could get to rein in any drastic paybacks the leaders might try to arrange in the future. If so, he actually gains political capital out of this near-fiasco.
In background, Jindal could be encouraging, if not arranging for a court challenge to the raise after he would let it slip into law on Jul. 8 on the basis that the suggested salary should be indicative of a full-time job and thus violates the Constitution. This is the last thing legislators would want, more publicity about the matter dragged on for months, if not years. It would allow Jindal to keep his promise to legislators yet maybe defeat the bill.
It would make Jindal appear to be champion of the people and generate positive headlines if he actually sued or joined a suit, but at the same time it is a highly uncertain strategy that Jindal cannot control, whereas he could control everything with a veto. Further, it still wouldn’t absolve Jindal of his broken promise to be against a pay raise concurrent which could be reminded of throughout the case’s disposition. Finally, it would embitter legislators who are raise supporters. It’s a highly risky strategy that might minimize the loss of political capital but, if it comes to naught, might really cause damage to his political career. In other words, if this is Jindal’s real strategy, he’s a bigger gambler than former Gov. Edwin Edwards ever was.
He didn’t have to be in this position but he put himself in it. These are his options, and the one certainty is the gutsier call he makes on it, probably the better off he’ll be.