Governor Bobby Jindal was a very busy man in 2009. He was working non-stop, not on Louisiana business, but on his own personal political agenda. Over the last year, Jindal traveled out of the state for approximately 40 fund raising events, raking in about $5 million. Over the past two years, Governor Jindal has raised $8.5 million, and currently has $7.2 million cash on hand.
Supposedly, the Governor is focused on his re-election campaign in 2011 and does not want to be outspent by a millionaire challenger. In the last campaign, Jindal faced two wealthy opponents who spent freely in the campaign. In the upcoming election, there are no opponents on the horizon to challenge Jindal. However, the Governor could face a spirited contest for he is vulnerable on a number of issues. It is quite obvious that Jindal is interested in pursuing higher office. It explains his fundraising obsession and his many out-of-state trips. In fact, he is so preoccupied with his own political future, that Jindal treats being Governor as a part-time job.
In 2007, the voters of Louisiana did not elect a part-time Governor. What Jindal is often doing has nothing to do with the people of Louisiana and everything to do with preparing for the national political stage. The Governor will take the next step in July when he releases his book, a traditional move for politicians looking to run for national office.
Jindal has been mentioned as a potential vice presidential and presidential candidate in 2012 and the Governor has done little to dampen the speculation. With his frenetic fundraising schedule and his frequent appearances on Fox News, Jindal has been busy boosting his national profile. Not surprisingly, his fundraising forays have focused on the voter rich states of Texas and Florida and, overall, Jindal has raised about 40% of his money from outside of Louisiana.
On the home front, Jindal has delivered window dressing instead of truly significant ethics legislation or budget reform. In his recent budget proposal, no significant cuts were announced, thereby postponing the difficult moves until a later time. Jindal has no appetite for the controversy, for it will only hurt his national ambitions. According to Sam Hanna Jr., publisher of the Ouachita Citizen, Jindal balances the budget “by a hodge-podge of maneuvers, the least of which would entail using one-time revenues, or non-recurring monies. In other words, some of the money Jindal wants to use to balance the new fiscal year budget most likely won’t be available for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. That’s what we could describe as kicking the proverbial can down the road a bit.”
Hanna speculates that Jindal might resign as Governor before his term ends, like Sarah Palin. Regardless of whether he follows the Palin formula, Hanna believes that “if Jindal is truly serious about running for president in 2012 or at some later date, he must leave office in Louisiana void of becoming embroiled in a political bloodbath.”
Showing leadership on the budget and the other serious problems facing Louisiana would entail risking his political capital and tangling with political opponents in the Legislature. It is clear that the Governor has no intention of creating controversies with his budget proposal. Instead, he wants to postpone the day of reckoning, which will inevitably come in Louisiana.
A responsible chief executive would deal with the problems today and not delay the inevitable. A responsible Governor would focus on the job he was hired to do and not hopscotch across the country raising money and pursuing his selfish political dreams. Unfortunately, Louisiana elected a part-time Governor in 2007 and it is about time that the taxpayers asked for a refund.
Jeff Crouere is the Host of “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. He is the Political Analyst for WGNO-TV ABC26 and a Columnist for selected publications. For more information, visit his web site at RingsidePolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected].