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Strategic considerations lead to crossover endorsement

Coincidence in timing is an unusual thing in the world of electoral politics, and it helps to explain the endorsement by Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Democrat state Sen. Rob Marionneaux to become the executive secretary of the Louisiana Public Service Commission.

Marionneaux’s name appeared on the list of eight applicants for the position, which makes no policy but can have some influence in the information it collates and presents to the five commissioners. He has no special qualifications for the job and in fact may have fewer than other applicants, such as the executive administrator for a current commissioner. Yet Jindal endorsed him creating surprise not so much because of political differences, but that Jindal would involve himself in such a trivial matter.

That Jindal would endorse him at all may seem curious given their political backgrounds and relations with each other. Marionneaux is not Jindal’s biggest critic and they do sympathize on a few issues like tax cuts, tuition tax credits, and ethics reform. But Marionneaux is a partisan Democrat economic populist who believes in the constipated view that, somehow, the system is rigged in favor of the wealthy, even though in his legislative career he has argued for power and privilege for legislators including perquisites and against press accessibility to report on the same. He also was one of the most vocal supporters of the full-time pay raise for part-time legislators last year that Jindal vetoed.

But perhaps his actual full-time job of trial lawyer doesn’t pay enough bills for him because of his expressed interest in this job that pays in the low six figures. And also because only days earlier he had also dropped a hint that he was looking at a slightly higher-paying post, that of U.S. Senator if he could challenge successfully incumbent Republican David Vitter.

Do not think that the two revelations are in accidental proximity, for they added perhaps a clinching reason for Jindal’s move. Marionneaux sliding into this job would remove an obstacle to Jindal’s larger agendas in the areas of health care reform and general reform of spending on social services, one who has a big axe to grind as a result of the pay raise fiasco. His departure also would open up a Democrat seat for potential Republican takeover for although the district’s registration demographics favor Democrats with a 4:1 edge over Republicans and about 30 percent being blacks, early indications are that actions of Democrats controlling both majoritarian branches of the federal government are beginning to leave a bad taste in voters’ mouths.

However, if Marionneaux also held himself out as a potential challenger to Vitter, even if the odds weren’t good for him knocking off Vitter, still, not taking on Vitter automatically reduces those odds to zero and makes Vitter that little bit safer to retain his seat. This may have been part of Jindal’s calculus in contacting two of the three elected Republicans on the Commission, as well as its Democrat chairman (he did not converse with his recent appointee who potentially will be replaced in a special election next week or with Foster Campbell whose employee former reporter Bill Robertson also is applying).

It may also have been part of Marionneaux’s calculus to secure the job, by floating the idea of a Senate run to add one more point of pressure to prompt a Jindal choice. Pres. Abraham Lincoln was smart enough to make appointees of political enemies where they could do no harm to his agenda; Jindal may be thinking of the same.


James S said...

There must be some damned fool or sleazy reason behind it cause I sure can't fathom Jindal's support for the man based on his integrity or ability. He is a lousy senator and his philosophy is diametrically opposed to that of Jindal and Jindal's supporters.

Maybe Bobby is intent on supporting the underdog (read losers)-this is the second in a row! When he does stay home he makes some awfully odd decisions...

Nick said...


Do you see Jindal possibly making an endorsement in the PSC-4 race?

There's been rumors, but nothing concrete.