Could We Please Do Away With This Jindal-For-Senate Stuff?

maginnisJohn Maginnis is the latest of the state’s political wags to fight off summer boredom by throwing out the tired Bobby-Jindal’s-Going-To-Run-Against-Mary-Landrieu chew toy for his readers to play with. And Maginnis’ piece, posted Tuesday, was promptly snatched up and bandied about by other politico types around the state who are also finding themselves with little to talk about now that the legislative session is over and we’re in the one boring year out of every four when there isn’t an election coming up in the fall.

According to Maginnis, Jindal will run against Landrieu out of necessity – he’s got no choice but to run if he wants to save his political career.

Jindal’s lap around the state, coupled with his breast-beating call to arms to the conservative corps, seems the prelude to his next great political quest. My guess is the governor is preparing himself to run against Sen. Mary Landrieu next year. Not necessarily because he wants to, but because he has to. Opposing Landrieu may be essential to not only furthering his national ambition but also remaining relevant in state politics in years to come.

Assessing his situation, Jindal may realize that his presidential prospects for 2016 are less than stellar, but, in future years, still hopeful. The Senate would give him a political life while he waits for his time to come.

And there’s a bit more, as Maginnis addresses the fact that Rep. Bill Cassidy is already in that race…

The governor, if you’ve noticed, has yet to put his arm around Cassidy. They were getting there, but after his re-election last year, Cassidy fired consultant Timmy Teepell, who is Jindal’s top political adviser and close friend.

Beyond all that, the big political players, in state and out, are waiting to see if the congressman can run a statewide campaign full throttle and take the fight to worthy opponent Landrieu. Is he as tough as that guy they read about in Politico, waiting in the wings as he puts on his “big boy pants?”

The governor has time to make his move, and if he does, the congressman would have little choice but to step aside and run for re-election. Yet there is that sense that Jindal doesn’t want to go to Washington and be one of 100. There are worse things, however, than giving up the job he loves. If he stands back for Cassidy, who then loses to Landrieu, perhaps costing Republicans control of the Senate, it won’t be Vitter who will be blamed for not doing all he could, but Jindal.

It could be worse for him to have Cassidy win. Jindal would quietly finish his term while Vitter may well run for governor. Were the senator to win, he would appoint his successor to finish his term. Vitter would then have his hands on the top three positions in state politics, and would methodically work down from there, as citizen Jindal looks on powerlessly.

This is the kind of inside baseball/navel-gazing exercise/barroom punditry stuff all of us in the Louisiana political watching business do all day, so I’d be tempted to play with it.

Except there’s a problem. Which is that I know Jindal isn’t running for the Senate.

I know that he’s not first because I talked to somebody in a very inside position who would know about this Wednesday, and that person had talked to Jindal directly about this very topic…and Jindal expressly told this individual that he doesn’t want to run for the Senate, that being a legislator doesn’t do it for him and that there is nothing to these rumors.

But I also know that he’s not because also Wednesday National Journal caught up with Curt Anderson, who runs Jindal’s political consultant firm, and Anderson did for the Jindal-for-Senate rumors what Aaron Hernandez did for the New England Patriots’ depth at tight end this fall…

Jindal’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but his longtime political advisor Curt Anderson had a succinct response: “Column wrong. No interest. At all.”

The NJ piece got into this business of Jindal’s 38 percent approval rating in that last poll Bernie Pinsonat did, and of course Pinsonat has been all over the state like a cock of the walk over the fact that he exposed how unpopular Jindal is. But since the Governor is making the statewide rounds in an effort to burnish his approval ratings, you can bet your bottom dollar that when that’s over OnMessage will put out their own poll showing Jindal’s back up over 50 percent approval, together with a quote from Anderson or Timmy Teepell which says that Pinsonat was full of it in the first place.

And that quote might also mention the fact that Pinsonat’s client Gary Smith, a Democrat state senator from LaPlace that Pinsonat is touting as one of the state’s rising political stars and somebody who’s a conservative who would be a Republican but for the tough district he represents, voted in the Senate in favor of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion – which was a pretty sour vote for lots of people to whom Pinsonat has been pitching the idea of Smith switching parties to the GOP and setting himself up as the next Senate President after John Alario, who is also a Pinsonat client and a former Democrat just like Smith supposedly might be, has been termed out of the Legislature.

Jindal’s people might also include a reference to the fact Pinsonat’s client made the Medicaid expansion vote immediately after Karen Carter Peterson called anyone who doesn’t favor Obamacare a racist. Right after she made the most explosive and divisive statement in recent Louisiana political history, Gary Smith – Pinsonat’s client – voted with her.

This is what Jindal’s people might say after they show evidence of his political rehabilitation.

What they won’t say is that Jindal is running for the Senate. Because he isn’t.

So why won’t the Jindal-For-Senate stuff go away? A good rule on a persistent rumor that doesn’t have any basis in reality is that it persists because somebody wants it to.

And while Jindal isn’t particularly interested in running, he does have somebody in his camp who is interested in the race. Namely, the aforementioned Teepell, who could be having great fun with the idea that his former boss and current OnMessage client would be the fly in the ointment of the Cassidy campaign – and perhaps making it just a little more difficult for Cassidy to raise money.

Maybe even so much so that Cassidy’s people would feel the need to go back to Teepell and make peace with him and/or find a role for him in the campaign after all.

Which is not to say that’s going to happen, mind you. Cassidy’s people, who are more than a little miffed at the persistent Jindal rumors and are more or less convinced they’re a Teepell creation, nevertheless say they’ve had a monster second quarter of fundraising and believe their next FEC report, the one they’ll release in a couple of weeks, will show his war chest swelling to over $4 million.

John Kennedy, who ran against Landrieu in 2008 and got 48 percent of the vote, raised and spent $4.7 million. That was for the whole cycle. Well over a year out Cassidy is already at $4 million, and he’s right on schedule to reel in the $10-12 million most people think he’ll need to beat her.

So the Cassidy crowd thinks Maginnis is either a mouthpiece for someone like Teepell in suggesting the Congressman would back down should Jindal enter the race, or that he’s smoking crack. He isn’t going anywhere, and even if Jindal – or somebody else – were to get into the race, they’d be looking uphill at Cassidy’s $4 million arsenal.

That Teepell would be spreading these stories, which is their perception, makes it all the less likely he’d be invited back onto the team.

That, of course, might be a problem for Teepell. Because while he’s a very talented political consultant who’s had a lot of electoral success of late, the prognosis for his continued placement near the top of the state’s political hierarchy isn’t too hot right now.

Consider that right now it’s highly unlikely Teepell will have a dog in the Senate fight next year. And right now it’s also highly unlikely Teepell will have a dog in the governor’s race in 2015, either. At one point it would have been foreseeable that Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, the Jindal camp’s likely standard bearer, would be in the governor’s race. But that’s over – if there was any steam in an Angelle-for-Governor effort for 2015 it died yesterday when he turned his coat on his fellow Republicans on the PSC and voted with a bunch of left-wing hogs at the trough on the idiotic “energy efficiency” program cooked up by Foster Campbell and the Sierra Club crowd…

The Alliance for Affordable Energy appreciates the continued support of Commissioners Boissiere and Campbell and applauds Commissioner Angelle’s leadership and diligence to ensure Louisiana’s energy efficiency rules are equitable. The Commission is working to ensure that significant benefits are delivered to both residential and commercial ratepayers and we look forward to assisting the Commission in the success of the programs as they move forward.

“Efficiency works to keep rates and bills low for everyone. These programs are vital to Louisiana’s energy future,” said Alliance for Affordable Energy Utility Policy Director Forest Wright. “Louisiana’s families and businesses will have the opportunity to modernize buildings that are bleeding energy while putting local people to work. Utility scale energy efficiency programs save money for all customers by reducing the need to build more $1billion power plants. Simply put, efficiency works for Louisiana.”

Forest Wright, a hard-core “green” lefty, actually ran as a Democrat against Angelle last year for the PSC, and just a few months later he’s voting the way Wright wants him to. If you’re Teepell you sure can’t run Angelle for governor; he’ll never raise any money and no Republican wants to vote for a guy who was a Democrat three years ago and still takes Democrat positions. After a vote like that Angelle will be lucky to stick around as a public service commissioner at the next election, much less move up into statewide office of any kind

And without Angelle, what does Teepell have? It’s doubtful he’d be able to play a major role in David Vitter’s or Jay Dardenne’s camps, and any other Republicans who would be in the governor’s race would be major long shots. That would mean he’d be relegated to running somebody for Secretary of State, or Lt. Governor, or Treasurer or something without the luster of what he’s got going on with Jindal.

And given that the Andersons and OnMessage brought Teepell on with the idea that they’d be making that firm a major player in Louisiana politics going forward, the way things look right now might not be all that awesome from their vantage point.

If you’re following all this, you might come to the same conclusion we’re coming to – namely, that the Jindal-for-Senate rumors come about as a result of the fact nobody’s happy. Jindal isn’t happy that his political star isn’t on the rise at the moment, Cassidy isn’t happy at the fact he can’t seem to consolidate Republican support for his Senate campaign, not to mention Jindal rumors might scare away big-fish donors he’s going to need to match all that left-wing D.C. money Landrieu is going to have, and Teepell and the Andersons aren’t happy that they’re running out of horses to ride.

Unhappy people snipe at each other and start rumors.

But rumors like this do make political wags, like John Maginnis and us here at the Hayride, for example, plenty happy. Even if they’re not actually true.

Which Jindal-for-Senate isn’t.

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