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Gubernatorial Candidates Make Jindal the Issue

Sue Lincoln

While the candidates for governor are obviously running against each other, they are also running hard against Bobby Jindal and his record. Speaking to the Louisiana Municipal Association on Friday, all four of the top contenders in the governor’s race endeavored to draw a line of difference between themselves and the current governor.

Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, Jindal’s former Natural Resources Secretary, and one of Jindal’s current appointees to the LSU Board of Supervisors, criticized Jindal obliquely.

“We don’t need a governor that knows everything. We need a governor that wants to work with everyone,” Angelle told the gathering of mayors, city council members and other local government officials.

Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne hit home with those officials, while taking aim at the governor’s gallivanting in search of the U.S. presidency.

“I am concerned about Sterlington, Louisiana, not Burlington, Vermont; Columbia, Louisiana, not Columbia, South Carolina; and Des Allemands, Louisiana, not Des Moines, Iowa,” Dandenne announced, eliciting appreciative laughs and applause from the audience.

“We’ve got to put Louisiana ahead of us, and not in the rear-view mirror where it is right now,” Dardenne added.

State Rep. John Bel Edwards dispatched some darts at Angelle and Dardenne, on his way to targeting Jindal.

“I have not been a cheerleader or an enabler for Bobby Jindal,” Edwards stated. “Louisiana deserves a governor who wakes up every day, worried about the people of Louisiana. And Louisiana deserves a governor who wakes up in the state of Louisiana.”

That brought the most enthusiastic applause from LMA conventioneers.

U.S. Senator David Vitter was quick to turn that enthusiasm in his direction.

“This will be my last political job – elected or appointed – period. And that’s to say I will get up every day, focused exclusively on doing right by all of Louisiana,” Vitter said.

When addressing questions about specific problems of interest to local government officials, such as funding for local roads, Vitter’s responses kept ringing a bell in this reporter’s mind.

“We need real solutions and strong leadership. We’ve compiled this in a detailed plan, ‘Together, Louisiana Strong’, our blueprint for building a brighter future. The entire plan is at”

Vitter avoided giving particulars, referring those in attendance to this or that chapter of his plan.

Where and when have we heard something like that before? Could it have been…in 2007? It certainly sounded very similar to Bobby Jindal’s gubernatorial campaign rhetoric.

Recall, for example, Jindal’s answer to a 2007 debate question regarding the most pressing needs post-Katrina:

“We’ve laid out a detailed 31-point plan. ‘A Fresh Start for Louisiana’, which you can find at Next week, we’ll be revealing our 7th chapter, a chapter on hurricane recovery and reconstruction.”

That begs the question: how much difference are the candidates really offering? And are those differences what voters really want?