A story on the website of KPLC-TV in Lake Charles has Gov. Bobby Jindal declaring his intention to “absolutely” run for re-election in next year’s statewide election cycle. While that won’t likely quell speculation about the Governor’s next job in politics – speculation which has encompassed a gig as Chairman of the Republican National Committee, a U.S. Senate seat, a presidential or vice-presidential run in 2012 or even a cabinet post should a GOP candidate knock off President Obama in two years – it does appear that Jindal’s vacating the Governor’s mansion isn’t in the immediate offing.
But while it doesn’t appear that Jindal has a serious challenger for re-election as yet, he does acknowledge there are threats to his standing as a popular governor in the air:
The governor said his main focus is creating a better economic environment for the state.
Jindal has lead the state’s fight against the federal moratorium since it was enacted after the oil spill.
“The federal government has taken a lot of action that’s hurt our economy,” said Jindal. “For example, this moratorium that could cost Louisiana as much as 20,000 jobs. They’ve also done things like cap and trade…you add all that up and the federal government has adopted many policies that are hurting our economy.”
A lot of challenges await Jindal in the next year. Obviously the moratorium is a top concern. But before the governor runs for re-election next year, he’ll have to get through another budget shortfall for 2011-12, the so-called “cliff year,” when deeper cuts are expected for the state.
The governor’s new budget chief recently asked state agencies to plan for possible cuts of up to 35 percent.
Jindal vows not to raise taxes, but acknowledges the task will be challenging.
Estimates of a $2.7 billion budget hole to be filled next year – a budget hole which has been forecast for several years – have fueled predictions that Jindal is searching for a parachute out of his job. Those predictions explain the high interest in this year’s Lieutenant Governor special election; candidates like Jay Dardenne, Roger Villere and Sammy Kershaw perceive the winner of the race might just find himself Governor.
For now, though, it looks like Jindal is willing to take on the challenge of fixing that budget amid the economic devastation caused by the moratorium. He might regret that decision next spring when the fallout from the necessary budget cuts hits – or next fall if he decides to buckle under and raise taxes.