In a kind of campaigning for any future national aspirations, Gov. Bobby Jindal may have become a victim of his own success for the long term and signaled his hopes for the near-term.
Widely considered to be amenable to a presidential or vice presidential nomination in 2012 or 2016, during the recent midterm election campaigns Jindal lent his support to, if not outright appearance for, a number of Republican candidates, most of whom won their offices successfully. Jindal is thought of as a good draw by campaigns and the monetary support his endorsements appear to trigger seems to verify that.
Partly because of his efforts, which are typical of a politician who wishes to build a donor and high-profile supporter network for future national ambitions (and taken seriously by Democrats who already are beginning opposition research on him), several younger (that is, around his age) conservative Republicans won high profile offices,such as Marco Rubio going to Washington as Florida’s next senator, Nikki Haley retaining the governorship for the party in South Carolina, and Susana Martinez becoming the new governor of New Mexico. They join several other more veteran winners of politics for the GOP to create a much larger bench from which Republicans can field a presidential ticket.
Jindal has held a prominent place on that bench simply because, after the party’s turn away from solid conservatism that dulled the plurality conservative American public and led it temporarily to seek out a nebulous, obscurant alternative, so few semi-prominent conservative politicians remained to help pick up the pieces. Suddenly, as a result of the midterm elections, the roster has swelled with some of the rookies also sharing Jindal’s ethnic minority background which may be considered positive for future national tickets from a GOP perspective.
He still has a bit of a march on them since he’s been on the scene already for three years. But that widow of opportunity for political status-climbing will close pretty quickly. If they perform well, the likes of Haley and Martinez by 2016 will be seasoned, two-term governors while Rubio may have concluded a successful first term. They very well may eclipse Jindal in stature by then, who likely will have served a pair of terms and be out of office with a record that may or may not be as impressive as theirs.
Thus, Jindal’s willingness to assist those who could turn into future rivals indicates his eye more is on 2012 than 2016. Not that he would discount making a move for the latter cycle, but that he feels his odds for national office are more certain for the earlier one. Further, because of the compressed election cycle for him that essentially makes impossible campaigning for reelection next year while presidential campaigning already has begun, it’s clear that any national ambitions he may have focus on the 2012 vice presidential nomination which features no mass-based campaigning.
Even if he cannot secure this nod or if he does and Republicans (less likely now) do not capture the White House, he also has the option of going for the Senate seat of Democrat Mary Landrieu that comes up in 2014. This could show that he feels more experience would be the lesson from inability to have occupied Number One Observatory Circle in 2012 and to keep up with the newer crop of rivals (and/or allies) whose careers he helped launch.
No big gain in politics comes without risk. By assisting these candidates, Jindal may have removed some of his maneuvering room going forward. But he also may have constructed a firm base of support that will help him succeed if he has thoughts on the executive branch beyond Louisiana’s.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 11:15