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Jindal likely, but Boasso possibly, gubernatorial winner

You don’t say, U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal is actually leaning towards running for governor! Not only does he command substantial leads in polls for that 2007 race, but being in the minority in the House for the next two years might not appeal to him as well (even if the GOP likely will recapture Congress in 2008 absent more self-destruction, and that may not even matter if national Democrats commit political suicide with the nomination of Sen. Hillary Clinton for president), making it virtually certain he will do so.

But, understatement aside, the dynamics of the contest could get very interesting. Incumbent Gov. Kathleen Blanco seems sacred and bound to try again, and, despite political minimal life-support levels of popularity, she has every reason to believe that she would be the most competitive Democrat. Her problem is she presently is a definite underdog to Jindal and, under certain circumstances, might not even make the general election runoff.

Fellow Republican state Sen. Walter Boasso’s gubernatorial aspirations rest upon the right combination of events. He must realize that, under most circumstances, regardless of the amount of his personal wealth he spent on a statewide campaign, Jindal is just too popular to be taken out. Like Jindal’s, Boasso’s record in office is necessarily short but, even as Boasso is more conservative than liberal, there are some votes he’s taken that conservatives will not forget and they will prefer Jindal. That means in a Blanco-Boasso-Jindal matchup, Boasso is likely to get squeezed out in the nonpartisan blanket primary, which is why he would be smarter to try for the House or Senate in 2008, where, depending on what happens in the next two years, he might even be the favorite against Democrats Sen. Mary Landrieu or Rep. Charlie Melancon.

However, Democrat Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell has said it is fairly certain he will run for governor as well. While his simplistic populist agenda would be rejected by the majority of Louisiana voters, it would peel a number of them off Blanco’s column. If that happened, Boasso would stand a decent chance with Jindal of acing Blanco out of the runoff, and then, with Democrats and leftists more comfortable supporting him than Jindal, a Boasso-Jindal runoff would be a toss-up.

Yet this is a big gamble for Boasso. The only way it would work is with that combination. It may not even work if Blanco did bow out, because another liberal Democrat of stature who could (unlike Campbell) claim he was really a moderate has said he will run if Blanco does not, lobbyist and former U.S. representative Chris John. He probably would siphon off voters for Boasso that Blanco would have lost, meaning even with Campbell in the contest a Jindal-John runoff is most likely (which still is likely to go to Jindal, given his much higher profile than John’s over the past few years and that he is closer to Louisianans’ issue preferences than John).

In short, Jindal is almost a sure thing to make the runoff, and nearly as certain to win it, at this point. Only Boasso would have a chance to defeat him. But Boasso would have to get just the right help from the Democrats, and that’s a risky thing to count on especially when a U.S. House or Senate seat seems more within his grasp.

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