Bobby Jindal Wins Louisiana Governor’s Race
Bobby Jindal has been elected governor of Louisiana.
U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal became the nation’s youngest governor and the first nonwhite to hold post in Louisiana since Reconstruction when he carried more than half the vote to defeat 11 opponents. Jindal, the Republican 36-year-old son of Indian immigrants, had 53 percent with 625,036 votes with about 92 percent of the vote tallied. It was more than enough to win Saturday’s election outright and avoid a Nov. 17 runoff.
“My mom and dad came to this country in pursuit of the American dream. And guess what happened. They found the American Dream to be alive and well right here in Louisiana,” he said to cheers and applause at his victory party.
His nearest competitors: Democrat Walter Boasso with 208,690 votes or 18 percent; Independent John Georges had 167,477 votes or 14 percent; Democrat Foster Campbell had 151,101 or 13 percent. Eight candidates divided the rest. “I’m asking all of our supporters to get behind our new governor,” Georges said in a concession speech.
The Oxford-educated Jindal had lost the governor’s race four years ago to Gov. Kathleen Blanco. He won a congressional seat in conservative suburban New Orleans a year later but was widely believed to have his eye on the governor’s mansion. Blanco opted not to run for re-election after she was widely blamed for the state’s slow response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
Political analysts said Jindal built up support as a sort of “buyer’s remorse” from people who voted for Blanco last time and had second thoughts about that decision. Blanco was widely criticized for the state’s response to Hurricane Katrina and she announced months ago that she would not seek re-election. “I think the Jindal camp, almost explicitly, (wanted) to cast it this way: If you were able to revote, who would you vote for?” said Pearson Cross, a University of Louisiana at Lafayette political scientist.
Jindal has held a strong lead in the polls since the field of candidates became settled nearly two months ago. But the two multimillionaires in the race — Boasso, a state senator from St. Bernard Parish, and Georges, a New Orleans-area businessman — poured millions of their own dollars into their campaigns to try to prevent Jindal’s victory.
Jindal’s an impressive figure, a Rhodes Scholar who has been entrusted with incredibly high profile jobs since his early twenties. I remember reading about him in the Chronicle of Higher Education several years ago when he was appointed to run the state’s university system at the age of 28. From Wikipedia:
In 1995, U.S. Congressman Jim McCrery (R-LA) introduced his former aide (Jindal) to Republican Governor Murphy J. “Mike” Foster, Jr.. Foster subsequently appointed Jindal, then age of twenty-four, to be Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals, an agency then representing about 40 percent of the state’s budget; he served from 1996 to 1998. From 1998 to 1999, he was executive director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare. He was also the youngest-ever president of the University of Louisiana System between 1999 and 2001. Newly-elected President George W. Bush appointed him Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation; he held that post from 2001 to 2003.
Quite extraordinary, really.