If you’re a Republican or a conservative in Louisiana and you’re not familiar with Mike Bayham, you’ve been dealt a lousy hand – Bayham is one of the Right’s most honest and intelligent advocates in the state from his base in St. Bernard Parish. It’s a damn shame he doesn’t hold forth more often on matters political; perhaps that will change in the near future and he’ll be more prolific in his blogging.
And Bayham has scored well with his latest foray into punditry, chastising Gov. Bobby Jindal for his reticence to endorse obvious allies in this year’s federal and state races. We endorse his piece tonight with full throat.
Vitter and anyone else with a political IQ over 100 sees Jindal’s position for what it is, though candidate Vitter has publicly ignored the slight. At least until November 2nd.
But why is the Republican governor abandoning Congressman Joseph Cao, Third District US Representative candidate Jeff Landry and incumbent Secretary of State and lieutenant governor candidate Jay Dardenne, who lack Vitter’s political baggage but also his strong poll numbers and well-stocked campaign warchest as well.
Cao’s race is a Republican defense against a machine politician backed by New Orleans City Hall.
A Landry win in the Third District would be a pick up for the national GOP and one less vote for Nancy Pelosi for speaker.
A Dardenne victory would return to the Republican fold an office that hasn’t been occupied by a Republican since Paul Hardy left office in 1992.
Jindal’s neutrality in the state’s federal races borders on hypocrisy; his abstaining from the race for lieutenant governor is downright irresponsible.
I’ve heard a number of theories of why he’s staying out, ranging from the trial lawyers sudden embracing of him to a potential conflict with Indian-American fundraisers who backed Jindal’s runs for governor and are supporting fellow Ivy League Indian-American Ravi Sangisetti for Congress in the Third District.
Whatever the reasons are, they’re all bad excuses in the face of a potential political reality.
I’ll admit a conflict of interest being a Republican working for the election of other Republicans but watching Jindal hustle for Republican candidates in Wisconsin but not Louisiana would appear strange to even people who don’t follow politics closely.
I don’t know who’s giving Jindal this bad advice and I don’t know why the governor seems to be following it, but Jindal needs to start being Mr. Republican in Louisiana instead of just Mr. Republican in the 49 Other States.
Jindal has been all over the country making Republican endorsements of Senate and gubernatorial candidates. He’s a prominent Republican politician, and as such he can do lots of good for lots of people by helping a Rick Scott or Terry Moran or Nathan Deal get elected. Nobody really objects to Jindal helping other Republicans win.
But in Louisiana, where the GOP is still a distinct minority in terms of party registration despite a strong run of luck with respect to elections in recent years, there is still much work to do in party-building. It was less than 15 years ago when the state party was in such disarray that a mediocre Democrat convert had the entire party apparatus presented to him as a plaything out of desperation for power, and even today Republicans are no factor to control any of the state’s three major cities. It’s expected that Republicans will take over control of the state House of Representatives (they currently have 51 of 105 seats) and potentially the state Senate, but such fortunes haven’t befallen the party since Reconstruction.
In short, the fortunes of the state GOP shouldn’t be taken for granted. It requires the active participation of the popular GOP governor to help create a governing majority for the party at a time the Democrats are all but exiting the field.
And yet Jindal is refusing to participate? Why?
It’s difficult to understand.