Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain said Tuesday he will likely run for governor in 2015, getting an early jump on what’s sure to be a crowded field to replace two-term Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal.
“We’re definitely exploring the option of running for governor now,” said Strain, who was here Tuesday to speak during an agriculture forum. “We’re meeting with friends and supporters across the state.”
Though the Republican isn’t ready to make a firm commitment to the race, when asked if he wants to be governor, Strain said, “Yes.”
Strain will at least have a good narrative as a gubernatorial candidate, though he’s going to be lacking in name recognition if he’s up against better-known people like Jay Dardenne, John Kennedy or even David Vitter.
His upside: there may not have been a more drastic improvement in Louisiana history from one statewide official to another than Strain offered in the wake of Bob Odom’s demise as Ag Commissioner. Strain is also a good guy people instinctively like, and he has the common touch.
What could hurt him, though, is that unlike Odom – who was always in the news pushing some unconstitutional, harebrained and crooked scheme out of the Ag Commissioner’s office – Strain has kept a low profile and simply done his job. He hasn’t pushed for media attention; he’s just put his department on a budgetary diet and scrubbed a good deal of Odom’s slimy practices out of its operations. But not having commanded a lot of attention while doing so makes him a guy nobody knows about – so maybe if Strain is getting in, talking about it a lot earlier than everybody else is a way to counteract the lack of name recognition he might have in comparison to some of the higher-profile folks.
Nevertheless, Strain is a good man, an honest public official, a solid conservative and a Republican of long standing. If he wants in, the only concern is that by running for governor he’ll be vacating the Ag Commissioner’s job – and we’ll be losing a guy who actually does that job well.