As Dardenne is a Republican like Jindal, one might think an endorsement might slip quite naturally from Jindal’s mouth since his opponent is Democrat Caroline Fayard. However, this forgets a political axiom that an elected official shouldn’t endorse somebody unless it helps both the endorser and endorsee politically, a lesson Jindal seems to have learned with his continued silence on the U.S. Senate race to be decided with this contest.
With incumbent Republican Sen. David Vitter running far ahead of challenger Democrat Rep. Charlie Melancon, Vitter doesn’t need the help and Jindal prefers not to associate himself additionally to Vitter as a result of Vitter’s admission of a “serious sin” believed by many as an alleged use of prostitution services years ago. The dynamic on Dardenne’s side is the same here: this is a race he will win easily.
Some people looking at the primary results appear impressed that the newcomer Fayard was able to do so well while the established politician Dardenne didn’t do better. As a commentary on the chances of each in the general election, where some think it might be close, this ignores a few salient points, beginning with the fact that Republican candidates took home 65 percent of the vote in the primary. Given Fayard’s history of financial support of (apparently even in her teens, writing huge campaign contribution checks for) liberal Democrats and her and her family’s close connections to national Democrats, all Dardenne must do is remind voters of this and most voters who went Republican (despite a few with ulterior motives regarding Dardenne) in the primary will pull the lever for Dardenne.
Also, Fayard’s showing appeared more impressive than it really was because of the dynamic in this fall contests at all levels that boosts the chances of “outsiders” to politics. Note how well these people did in this contest: in declining order, 24 percent, 19 percent (although he had run before), 8 percent (although he was an elected official nearly 30 years ago), and 3 percent, or a stunning 54 percent of the vote. As for those currently in office (elected or party), they drew 28 percent, 8 percent, 7 percent, and 4 percent. This vein runs deeply and Fayard ended it up tapping it best not because of any real quality as a candidate, but because she by far outspent the other “outsiders” and best introduced herself to voters looking for a new name.
This might help her out but any assistance this gives her will be more than cancelled by the fact that the Nov. 2 electorate will differ significantly from that of Oct. 2 because the enthusiasm of Republicans and independents voting for the likes of Vitter and GOP House candidates disproportionately will draw them to the polls compared to dispirited Democrats. These voters, typically less interested in politics as indicated by their staying home on Oct. 2 but especially keyed in on partisanship in a year politically toxic almost everywhere for Democrats, will see the “R” next to Dardenne’s name compared to the “D” next to Fayard’s and press his button. Had one of the “outsiders” with an “R” like Sammy Kershaw made it past the primary, then Dardenne would be trouble. Instead, he got the perfect runoff candidate to contrast himself with.
Thus, it would not be surprising for Dardenne to pick up at least 60 percent of the vote, and Jindal knows this. But Dardenne also is Republican whose past votes have revealed an agenda more to the center than the right, and Jindal knows he must preserve his conservative credentials that an endorsement of Dardenne could tarnish. So he gains little by an endorsement. Therefore, it wouldn’t be surprising either if Jindal doesn’t deliver one in this race.