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Endorsement mistake continues erosion of Jindal capital

Largely of his own making, April special elections turned out to this point to be an embarrassing political setback for Gov. Bobby Jindal, answering one question yet creating another.

The outcome of the runoff for the District 16 Senate contest answered the question why Jindal took the low-payoff, high-risk strategy of announcing an endorsement before the primary election of eventual losing candidate Lee Domingue over the eventual general election runoff winner Dan Claitor in a contest that wasn’t even close. It must have been because the Domingue campaign sensed a few days prior to the primary that Domingue was in trouble, and it was believed a Jindal endorsement could salvage his chances. That it didn’t speaks volumes.

Jindal had little to gain politically by favoring one Republican over another and with Claitor’s victory now has created a legislator who will be somewhat less than gung-ho about his agenda even if they largely share policy preferences. Still undetermined is why Jindal would prefer Domingue so much to go so far out on a limb for him.

The question now remains and intensifies why Jindal, who is quite bright, continues to make political mistakes that seem easier and easier to avoid. This questionable endorsement now joins his initial resistance to last year’s individual income tax cut when it had so much enthusiasm, allowing a pay raise that would have made legislators full-time to put him in the awkward position of going back on his word with a veto, and most recently pledging state money to aid in plucking chickens but balking at cushioning sharp cuts in health care and higher education spending. These blunders have come on increasingly easy issues to avoid. The tax cut hesitation was understandable given the looming budget crisis now being realized, but there was no reason he could not have cut off the pay issue before it got any momentum, and the state bailing out a failing private sector concern instead of public matters that threaten a far wider range of people is baffling.

This needless defeat reduces Jindal’s political capital even more and if he desires to enact an agenda more challenging than last year’s in this and future years, he is going to find as a result of this and these other things a less pliant Legislature that becomes more able to make him do things he does not want to do. And when that happens, he will disappoint supporters who have stuck with him and lose even more capital.

Unless this mystifying decision-making trend ends soon, Jindal need not worry about political aspirations beyond the state as he will court the termination of them right here in Louisiana.


James S said...

To say that Jindal's endorsement strategy is flawed is a wild understatement. I thought abut sending an e-mail to the Guv's website but I don't know if he reads them when he's out of state.

His presidential aspirations will not be helped by a failure to be reelected due to job abandonment...

Anonymous said...

The reason he supported Domingue? The $118K Dimingue gave to Jindal and Jindal supporting organizations surely had nothing to do with it, b/c we know Bobby isn't influenced by such.