By: Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT — Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is seemingly lost in a sea of Republican contenders for 2016. While he hasn’t declared himself “in” yet, it has long been assumed that he will run for president in 2016. Jindal has said he will wait until after the current Louisiana legislative session to declare (which probably means he’s in – why wait if it’s no?). Maybe we need to wait for his new book to find out.
He may have missed his window.
Jindal won election to his last term as governor with a huge margin and was riding high in popularity. That was then, this is now:
In 2011, when he ran for his second four-year term as governor, Jindal swept to victory with 66 percent of the vote. But a statewide opinion survey conducted two months ago showed his approval rating had plunged to 27 percent.
Jindal appears to be leaving the state in a financial mess; Louisiana is facing a huge budget shortfall. He has decimated higher education and may not be finished cutting:
Republican Governor Bobby Jindal’s new budget plan proposes offsetting a $1.6 billion funding shortfall—caused in part by a decline in oil revenues—largely through budget cuts to higher ed. According to school officials, the cuts could add up to $600 million total, or 82 percent of the state’s funding for its colleges and universities, for the fiscal year that begins this July. It would amount to the biggest legislative downsizing ever faced by higher education in the U.S.
The Advocate is not optimistic about Jindal’s chances on a national stage:
His most high-profile Republican critic is the leading contender to succeed him as governor: U.S. Sen. David Vitter. Their feud — which seems both personal and political — goes back several years and has generated national publicity. Vitter was quoted this year in the New York Times as describing Jindal’s budgetary strategy as “this broken fiscal policy,” adding, “I don’t agree with his general approach.”
Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy a few months ago characterized Jindal’s state spending plan as a tricked-up confection of smoke and mirrors.
And Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, another Republican running to succeed Jindal, said at a forum, “Our budget has been full of sleights of hand — it’s almost a Ponzi scheme.”
None of this can be helpful to Jindal as a national candidate.
In the latest poll out of New Hampshire, Jindal is near the bottom of the barrel, sandwiched between Chris Christie and Rick Perry; Christie, incidentally, has suggested that man-made global warming is real – not a position many conservatives will applaud.
While it’s difficult to take Jindal too seriously as a top contender at this point, it is worthwhile to still keep his declining popularity at home in mind. This isn’t to suggest he’s not a smart man (he is) and that he doesn’t have a role in any future Republican administration (he should), but simply a reminder to look past the smoke and mirrors and focus on his real record. He’s done some good things for the state, but he’s made more than a few missteps.
Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.