As Texas Gov. Rick Perry returns to his home state to contemplate the future of his presidential campaign – meaning its end almost is certain – this affects Gov. Bobby Jindal’s and Louisiana’s immediate political future.
Almost at the start of Perry’s bid, coming only (even if it seems like ages) five months ago, Jindal enthusiastically announced his support for Perry and matched that with energetic campaigning on his behalf. Some observers believed he came across more effectively than did Perry in that role, and they turned up the volume and frequency of those kinds of comments as Perry, who started out fast, began shedding support.
Had Perry kept blossoming all the way to the nomination, Jindal may have become the leading possibility for Perry to tab as his vice presidential running mate.
While Jindal’s performance on the hustings does not discourage talk of his securing such a nod from the eventual nominee, removal of Perry from the field certainly diminishes his chances. Realistically, only former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Sen. Rick Santorum, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, have any chance of victory with Romney now the favorite after the results of yesterday’s Iowa caucuses.
Romney would be highly unlikely to choose Jindal. While this ticketing idea got some discussion right after the 2008 election (there’s still a Facebook page devoted to this topic), Jindal’s declaration for Perry moved him down the list. And if Romney would look for a conservative from a competitive state to ally with, more likely it would be an endorser of his, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, or a rising star from an ethnic group larger n number, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
Santorum or Gingrich have been considered more consistently principled (although the latter perhaps steady on some issue preferences not aligned with conservatism) than Romney so Jindal’s conservatism would not be a crucial factor for his selection, although his gubernatorial background could help. While not the leading candidate for each, he would be in the top tier, but if Romney is 50/50 to win now, they each are 25/75.
Jindal’s going all in with Perry and losing the hand means, at least for the next few months, in Louisiana “aginner” populist conservatives, increasingly strident (and diminishing in number) liberals, the adversarial media, and legislators in the minority will have him to kick around. Without travelling around on the stump for Perry, that will save a small amount of taxpayer dollars (almost all of Jindal’s travels out of state expenditures for these purposes either his campaign funds or Perry’s picked up) and have his attention less diverted – which may spell trouble for his political opponents. An undistracted Jindal had fairly successful legislative agendas in 2008 and 2009, but then the oil spill disaster of 2010 and his campaigning for reelection in 2011 brought about smaller and more incrementally-achieved agendas. (Already his program seems trending towards more and bigger.)
It’s possible that Jindal might reemerge in the summer as a surrogate campaigner for the eventual nominee, after the session. But if he does without being on the ticket, chances become high he leaves office in 2015 and set to return as a presidential candidate in 2016 (if somehow the beleaguered Pres. Barack Obama wins reelection this year) or in 2020 (after sitting out a few years from elective office, although maybe serving in the Cabinet) or in 2024 (if failing in a 2016 campaign, and perhaps after winning a third and nonconsecutive term as governor).
So the whimpering away of Perry’s bid brings a more experienced Jindal back with uncompromising force to state politics. While the minority might regard this as bad news, the majority properly sees this as positive.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 09:35