Another loss for Gov. Jindal

Published 11:21 am Saturday, November 23, 2013

Last weekend’s Fifth Congressional District race may ultimately be known for its historic significance as the first to have potentially been influenced by a reality show. Political novice Vance McAllister, whose popularity was boosted by his association with stars from the hit TV show “Duck Dynasty,” stunned many observers with his upset of favorite Neil Riser, an ally of Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Riser was tagged as the frontrunner after a confluence of events following the resignation of Rep. Rodney Alexander earlier this year. One day after announcing his resignation, Alexander accepted a position in the Jindal administration.
Shortly after, Riser announced his candidacy and hired Jindal political adviser Timmy Teepell to help direct his campaign. Riser won the primary and was expected to cruise in the general election before McAllister’s convincing victory, snagging 60 percent of the vote.
The defeat capped a crushing two weeks for Jindal, who had also campaigned for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli lost and shortly after the election a Cuccinelli adviser blamed Jindal and the Republican Governors Association for the defeat.
This latest political dustup comes at a crucial juncture for the governor. Opponents, even some within his own party, are calling for Jindal to stow his travel plans for a while and stay closer to home. That call was heightened even more when a recent report revealed Jindal had spent a combined two months on the road in 2013, campaigning for others and perhaps unofficially testing the waters for his own national ambitions.
What some see as an attempt to show he has not forsaken his roots, the governor has embarked on a 64-parish tour of Louisiana, but opponents remain skeptical, a sentiment that seems to be growing among voters as evidenced by Jindal’s approval ratings that have dipped below 40 percent.
To his credit, Jindal has fired back with scorching remarks regarding Obamacare and criticism of the Justice Department pursuing a lawsuit against the state’s voucher program.
The state legislative session closed earlier this year with Jindal at odds with the so-called Fiscal Hawks, which is a group of legislators, mainly Republican, who oppose the governor’s use of one-time money to fund recurring state expenses.
With his own party colleagues taking public shots and the taste of two stinging defeats fresh perhaps the governor should spend his holidays assessing and strategizing with his team of advisors for what may or not be a national run. For now he’s mum on the subject.
Legislators convene March 10, and how well Jindal does on his statewide odyssey and develops his proclivity for staying close to the governor’s mansion, at least for the short term, may well determine the success of what is sure to be a cantankerous session.
Of course, that’s a reality show of its own.