Peep Goat

The Emperor Has No Coattails

Bobby Jindal has a streak going that outpaces any previous governor that served before him: the inability to have a “coattails” effect on a single election where he has endorsed and publicly supported a candidate. First, there was Lee Domingue in Baton Rouge, who was defeated this spring for the state Senate by a longshot lawyer named Dan Claitor. Then, Jindal chose to endorse Brent Callais of Houma for the vacancy created by Sen. Reggie Dupré’s retirement. Strike 2: Norby Chabert, the youngest son of the late legendary Sen. Leonard Chabert (whom the charity hospital is named after in Houma) defeated Callais handily this summer. Most embarrassing was this Saturday’s defeat of Jindal’s former executive counsel, Jimmy Faircloth, for the north Louisiana Supreme Court seat. He was defeated by District Judge Marcus Clark of Monroe, who has been suspended previously by the Supreme Court for failing to timely handle his case docket, and was cited by the Judicial Elections Commission in this race for exaggerating attack claims about Faircloth. No one has confused him with legendary legal scholar Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes. Clark, of Monroe, used a strong turnout in his home parish of Ouachita to outpace Faircloth’s strong showing in his home parish of Rapides, beating him 52.8 percent to 47.2 percent. The personable and well-liked Faircloth had no previous elected office experience, which further confuses the issue of how he could be defeated by the less than spotless Judge Clark.

Add to that fact that Jindal has arguably done more for the northeast region of Louisiana (where the election was held) than any other region of the state. Jindal performed economic CPR on a lifeless chicken plant in Monroe with a $50 million dollar infusion of state funds this summer, and financially seeded a new eco-friendly car factory in the region. Those two events alone should have given Jindal more popularity in north Louisiana than Terry Bradshaw in Ruston or Doug Williams in Grambling. But they didn’t. Even more surprising was the open opposition to the governor’s candidate by nearly all sheriffs and district attorneys in the district, all of whom galvanized behind Clark.

Don’t think that astute legislators won’t take note. With the state facing a potential budget deficit of over $500 million next year alone, legislators may be less fearful of taking the governor on over the near-certain draconian budget cuts to state services that Jindal’s 2010 executive budget will likely contain. It’s too early to tell whether Jindal has lost his luster with the voting public in Louisiana. But certainly all political observers would agree that he is no longer considered by John Q. Sixpack as the whiz kid with answers to all that ails Louisiana.