A piece in the Lake Charles American Press today on the Lt. Governor’s race caught our attention. It seems that while Gov. Bobby Jindal hasn’t made an endorsement in that race, Jindal did prod Billy Nungesser into running.
In an interview with the American Press, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said that Jindal was one of three GOP statewide elected officials who urged him to run against Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, a Republican who won a November 2010 special election to ascend to the state’s No. 2 post.
“The governor, (state treasurer) John Kennedy, (U.S. Sen.) David Vitter all encouraged me to run,” Nungesser said. “Why? Because they don’t have a team effort in Baton Rouge right now.”
Vitter announced his support of Nungesser’s campaign on Sept. 1, but Jindal didn’t include a pick for lieutenant governor when he released a list of endorsements on Sept. 13.
Still, Aaron Baer, a Jindal campaign spokesman, confirmed Nungesser’s account to the American Press.
“The governor had encouraged him to run,” Baer said. “The two had worked closely in the past.”
However, Baer denied that Jindal pulled Nungesser into the contest.
“We weren’t involved in recruiting any candidates to the race,” Baer said.
There has long been a story making the rounds that Jindal and current Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne don’t get along. Nungesser certainly likes that story and references it a lot, but he’s not the only one who talks about it.
The question is, if Jindal hates Dardenne so much that he told Nungesser he ought to run why not make an endorsement? Vitter had no problem endorsing Nungesser.
And the lack of that endorsement gives the Dardenne camp an opening. Jason Hebert, Dardenne’s chief political consultant, told the American Press that the whole thing is overblown.
“Jay has worked as a team player by growing Louisiana tourism jobs by 5 percent in the nine months since he took office,” Hebert said.
And that means Billy needs to get Jindal’s endorsement if he wants to get any mileage out of the “I was encouraged to run because the governor can’t work with Jay” story – whether it’s true or not or whether it matters or not to the voters notwithstanding.
So he’s looking for a pow-wow with the governor.
“I will be meeting with him hopefully in the next week or so to discuss my candidacy,” Nungesser said. “The governor’s endorsement would be a huge boost.”
As for Kennedy, he’s not talking.
To date there isn’t a public poll on the Lt. Governor’s race. Most people think that Dardenne will have more crossover appeal to Democrats and that along with his incumbency (maybe not in his current job, which he’s only been in for less than a year, but he was Secretary of State prior to that) will give him a major advantage, but Nungesser’s financial report today shows him with a whopping $1.66 million in the bank thanks to $387,000 in money he’s raised since July 15, a half-million dollar loan he gave himself and over a million dollars in cash on hand at the beginning of the reporting period. Nungesser has spent $286,000 in the current period, a lot of it on television – as our readers have doubtless noticed.
It’s a very active campaign and with the endorsements of Vitter and two-time Lt. Governor candidate Sammy Kershaw he’s generated enough momentum to give Dardenne cause to sweat.
Dardenne’s report for the current period isn’t out quite yet, though we’re expecting to get a look at it later today.