Thus as Gov. Bobby Jindal’s second term in office begins today, a little prior to his swearing in will come the Legislature’s organizational sessions, where expected to be named Senate President after his swearing in for a second term, state Sen. John Alario, represents a gamble by Jindal.
About to begin his fifth decade being visited on the state, Alario has gone from a populist, liberal Democrat who could tax and spend with the best of them, to a more circumspect moderate (according to his Louisiana Legislature Log voting record) Republican. His chameleon political nature at once simultaneously makes him suspicious and desired to lead the Senate on behalf of the governor, who signaled his acceptance of Alario’s taking the chamber’s top position.
In previous stints as a liberal Democrat House speaker, Alario proved effective in promoting a populist agenda.
Now Republican Jindal must bet that he can contain Alario 2.0, ensuring that he uses his legislative, procedural, and parliamentary skills so that they serve the Jindal conservative and reform agenda and not the opposite. To make an unflattering, perhaps unfair (although not to some) comparison with U.S. foreign policy objectives concerning authoritarian leaders during the period Alario first entered the House, he may be a thug that doesn’t share many of our values, but, conservatives and reformers have to hope, he’s our thug.
That Jindal would make the leap of faith presents another indicator that he looks to take on a bolder agenda. Despite the slight proportional GOP advantage in the Senate compared to the House, questions persist about the reliability of a few senators for a conservative and reformist agenda (including a couple of recent switchers of party like Alario). Further, some items on the Jindal program, as yet to be specifically rendered, may depend upon two-thirds voting majorities, where Alario’s connections over the many years (a third of the members of the Senate served with him in the House as well) might prove valuable in picking up some votes from Senate Democrats, all of whom with prior legislative office have demonstrated in past voting fairly rigid adherence to liberalism and populism.
Therefore, if pursuing an agenda that reaches farther that his mostly-cautious moves on his first term, Jindal needs Alario’s abilities to get what he wants. Conservatives and reformers skeptical of Alario’s core beliefs, with his long record to validate their argument, hope for their agendas that by lying down with a dog, they don’t catch fleas.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 09:00