Yesterday a fresh start for the state of Louisiana began. This morning, after searching the news for confirmation that Bobby Jindal is indeed the next governor of the state, I did a happy dance, Snoopy style and with sounds of piano playing a la Linus rotating in my head, I fixed celebratory Belgian waffles for breakfast. What a dose of good news.
Bobby Jindal is a young superstar in the Republican party. He is 36 years old and he is the son of Indian immigrants. All indications pointed to a strong victory for Jindal and it happened. He won with more than 50% of the vote.
At the age of 24, yes, 24, Bobby Jindal was appointed to the position of Secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals in 1996, by then Governor Mike Foster, the last Republican governor Louisiana. I lived in the state then and I saw great potential in Jindal.
Jindal ran for his first elected office in 2003, running for governor and only lost the election to Blanco by 4 points. Blanco is very well connected to the Democrat political machine so that was quite an accomplishment. Most expected him to run again. He went on to represent his district in Congress in the mean time.
Blanco saw the writing on the wall with very low poll numbers after her dismally incompetent handling of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita so she bowed out of running for re-election. Jindal had such early momentum going that candidates like Mitch Landrieu, the current lt. governor and former senator John Breaux decided to pass on running.
The Democrat machine went into gear, viciously attacking Jindal by claiming voters would be turned off by his religious thought, his dark skin and his Indian heritage. He rose above all of it and kept on campaigning.
When I was in south Louisiana over Labor Day weekend, I noticed signs up in yards in bayou country - all for Jindal. I knew he would win. The signs I saw in the French Quarter were for John Georges, a Democrat candidate with his campaign headquarters there. Georges was the first to concede the race Saturday at the Monteleone Hotel. From NOLA.com, it is reported that Georges put $10 million of his personal money into his campaign and heavily concentrated on getting out the black vote in the last days of the campaign.
The next to concede was state senator Walter Boasso, a successful businessman who left the Republican Party this year and made himself into a new Democrat using commercials linking Jindal with President Bush and touting his own rags to riches story.
Candidate Foster Campbell, the fourth major candidate, a Democratic Public Service Commissioner was long on political connections but short on contributions. He was suppose to carry north Louisiana. Didn't happen.
Remember the system of election voting in Louisiana, an open primary and if a candidate breaks 50%, no run off is needed.
The worst of the attacks on Jindal included the allegations that the 'racist' northern part of the state would never vote for him. I was particularly offended by this kind of attack as I grew up in Shreveport and know that part of the state as well as the southern part I lived in as an adult. It's a stupid, easy style of bottom feeding political discourse and I am sick of it. Racism is in all parts of the country, not just the Deep South, thank you very much.
Bobby Jindal earned degrees from Brown University, then from Oxford. He decided to pursue public service over a career in law or medicine.
The rise of Bobby Jindal signals bad news for Mary Landrieu and her senate re-election bid next year. She is thought to be the most vulnerable anyway and this is further proof of her misfortune. She has been receiving low marks for some of her recent political stunts back home, such as signing the letter of Harry Reid about Rush Limbaugh, and just yesterday was all over the Internet for sponsoring the push to tax the Internet. Not good, Mary.
Power to the people.
I have some hope now for Louisiana. Recent years have been quite demoralizing with the state leadership. It's a new day.
Jindal's campaign focused on the need for stronger ethics laws, better management and fiscal prudence. You know, how Republicans used to act. Real Republican principles.
A hurricane sized wind of fresh air has descended upon the state of Louisiana.