Politics 06.04.2008

Jindal-as-VP speculation, talk of Victoria Reggie picking up the Camelot crown and more

THE DUELING JINDAL-AS-VP SPECULATION In the ongoing John McCain veepstakes, two camps have emerged as Gov. Bobby Jindal’s name continues to be bandied about as a possible running mate for Sen. McCain. Behind Door No. 1, most political observers say there’s no way it’s going to happen. Jindal is simply too young, he’s only five months into his tenure as governor, and one of McCain’s main attacks on Sen. Barack Obama — that he’s too young and inexperienced — would be nullified if McCain put the 36-year-old Jindal on his ticket. In this camp, keeping Jindal’s name in the ongoing VP dance is merely a way to raise his national profile, most likely to pave the way for him to deliver the keynote speech at the upcoming GOP convention and continue grooming him for a serious 2012 national run.

If that’s the case and McCain’s current flirtation with Jindal is nothing more than a bait-and-switch, give the national Republican Party credit. It’s doing a hell of a job of keeping Jindal’s name in the national press — and providing fuel for the folks behind Door No. 2, who believe Jindal’s the perfect pick for McCain. The Washington Times, the conservative paper owned by controversial Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon, sums up the current conservative and religious right embrace of Jindal with an editorial endorsing Jindal for VP. Some highlights:

“There are many things John McCain needs in a vice presidential candidate. The most obvious is a running mate who must be prepared to lead should the president be unable to. Other characteristics? Conservative. Youthful. Diverse. There is one name among those Mr. McCain is interviewing this weekend that fits the bill: Bobby Jindal.

“... A staunchly pro-life Roman Catholic, Mr. Jindal has the voting record to match his socially and fiscally conservative rhetoric. ...

“During his tenure as a congressman for Louisiana’s 1st Congressional District (2004-07), Mr. Jindal voted in favor of energy reforms to address increasing gas prices, including a measure to crack down on oil company cartels engaged in price-fixing and making allowances for offshore drilling. ...

“Mr. Jindal has been an outspoken advocate (sometimes in contrast to the Bush administration) for more recovery and rebuilding funding for the Gulf Coast region after Hurricane Katrina. He has voted for legislation that would restrict independent PACs, require lobbyist disclosures of bundled donations and protect whistle blowers. His goals to reign in government spending mimic those of Mr. McCain, and Mr. Jindal supported making the Bush tax cuts permanent. Mr. Jindal also favors tough immigration reform — having voted for building a fence along the Mexican border (a position that helps to solidify Mr. McCain’s flip-flop on the issue).”

With McCain scheduled back in Louisiana this week for events on June 3 (New Orleans and Kenner) and June 4 (Baton Rouge), don’t expect the Jindal-as-VP speculation to quiet down anytime soon. In the meantime, msnbc.com is running an online contest for readers to make their pick for Republican VP — and Jindal’s starting out as the No. 5 seed in the right bracket. ...

VICTORIA REGGIE PICKING UP CAMELOT CROWN? The speculation has already begun that Victoria Reggie Kennedy, wife of U.S. Sen. Edward “Ted” Kennedy, may run for her ailing husband’s seat in Congress. Known as “Vicki,” the Crowley native is being promoted in Democrat circles as a potential contender for the seat, which her husband has held since 1962 (the seat having been vacated two years earlier by his brother John when he was elected president).

The 76-year-old Democratic senator from Massachusetts was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor but has given no indication he plans to resign his position. He underwent brain surgery Monday at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., and will now be treated with chemotherapy and radiation.

A former Washington lawyer with no political experience, Vicki is a member of the prominent Reggie family that has been close to the Kennedys for decades. Her father, former Judge Edmund Reggie, managed presidential campaigns in Louisiana for Ted Kennedy in 1980 and his brothers, John and Robert, in 1960 and 1968, respectively. ...

UPHOLDING LOUISIANA’S FAIR SHARE OF OIL AND GAS REVENUES Louisiana officials are still giddy from Congress’ 2006 decision to give the state a greater share of its offshore oil and gas revenues. Politicians had been pushing for the increase for generations, with little movement — until hurricanes Katrina and Rita made Louisiana’s case for enhanced coastal protections. As for the most recent news attached to the cash, which should reach several billion dollars over the next decade, the Minerals Management Service finally got around to certifying a distribution plan last week. The law, known as the Domenici-Landrieu Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, requires that Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama receive 37.5 percent of the revenue from new oil and gas production off their shores. As expected, the Bayou State comes out on top of the formula. From 2008 to 2016, Louisiana will receive 32 percent of all of the revenues generated from 8 million acres newly opened in the Gulf of Mexico (30 percent goes to Alabama, 27 percent to Mississippi and 11 percent to Texas). U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, a New Orleans Democrat who authored the enacting legislation, says the money is confined to coastal restoration and protection projects and that Louisiana should see another increase in coming years. “After 2016, our percentage will only increase, giving us the independent revenue stream we need to protect our communities from future storms,” she says.
Contributors: Scott Jordan, Leslie Turk and Jeremy Alford_