Now 40, Gov. Bobby Jindal has worst week ever

by Leslie Turk

It's gotta be difficult to celebrate a 40th birthday when you are battling lawmakers at every turn.

In a video posted today, Times-Picayune political columnist Stephanie Grace and Managing Editor Peter Kovacs explain why the governor, who clearly still has national aspirations, is having the worst week ever - and there are still two weeks to go. The current legislative process has gone so poorly for Gov. Bobby Jindal, who turns 40 today, that there are now political observers betting the Legislature could adjourn without a budget.

In a bigger piece, the T-P analyzes how the former wunderkind, whose political aspirations seem to have begun at the age of 24 when he was named then Gov. Mike Foster's secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals, is a shoo-in for re-election (thanks in large part to his $9 million war chest). But that may be the end of the political road for Jindal, surmises those interviewed by the T-P, as he has lost his luster:

Meanwhile, the milestone birthday comes as Jindal labors through perhaps his toughest legislative session to date. His budget has been carved to pieces by the House of Representatives; his plans for selling prisons and merging two New Orleans universities are dead or on life support. Legislators are in a rebellious mood, and next week they could make him the first Louisiana governor since Edwin Edwards to have a veto overridden when they consider whether to extend a 4-cent cigarette tax.

Even before the session, there were signs that Jindal's star had begun to dim in the Republican constellation.

Two years after being picked to deliver the official Republican response to President Barack Obama's first presidential address to Congress, there are new governors making national waves. New Jersey's Chris Christie and Wisconsin's Scott Walker have become national figures, and have sent Republican hearts racing, as they challenge labor unions and other entrenched interests in their home states.

On Capitol Hill, 41-year-old Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has shaped the national dialogue with a controversial plan to balance the federal budget with deep spending cuts and an overhaul of federal entitlement programs.

Jindal, meanwhile, is no longer the nation's youngest governor, nor even its youngest Indian-American governor. Both of those titles now belong to Nikki Haley, the 39-year-old chief executive of South Carolina.

Read more on state experts' opinions about Jindal's political future here.