The Louisiana governor’s race
Bobby laps the field
Hints of a grander future in a comfortable victory
THREE days before Louisianans headed to the polls on October 22nd, the leading Democratic candidate for governor, Tara Hollis, told an audience in the low double digits at a campaign event, “I’m David, and I don’t mind taking on Goliath.” Goliath in this case was Bobby Jindal, the overwhelmingly popular Republican incumbent. Mrs Hollis’s sentiment was admirable, but David at least had a sling.
路易斯安那州于10月22日举行州长投票选举。在这三天前的一次竞选活动中，最有希望的民主党人塔拉?侯丽斯（Tara Hollis）的得票数仅有可怜的两位数，但她告诉现场参加活动的人：“我就是大卫，我不怕歌利亚[注1]决一雌雄。”她所指的歌利亚便是共和党炙手可热的候选人鲍比?金达尔（Bobby Jindal）。侯丽斯的宣言令人敬佩，不过，大卫至少还有一根机弦[注2]。
In political terms, Mrs Hollis—a teacher from northern Louisiana galvanised into political action when her husband, who taught at the same school, was sacked—lacked even that. By her own admission she was a default candidate, becoming the Democratic front-runner because “no one else stepped forward—everyone thought someone would.” She complained of receiving no help from the national party: “They view Louisiana as a lost cause.” In early October Mr Jindal had over $6m on hand; Mrs Hollis had $384 (and 24 cents).
At her event Mrs Hollis spoke not of winning, but of holding Mr Jindal below 50%. Louisiana’s open-primary system pits all candidates against each other. If none wins an outright majority, the two leading candidates compete in a run-off election (if a candidate wins a majority, he wins the contest). But even in that modest goal she failed: Mr Jindal took 66% of the vote, and Mrs Hollis finished a distant second of ten candidates, with 18%. No other candidate cracked 5%. Mr Jindal’s victory eclipsed the record set by Edwin Edwards, a four-term governor who once boasted that the only way he could lose an election would be if he were caught in bed “with either a dead girl or a live boy”.
Also setting a record was the low turnout of not quite 36%. This was perhaps unsurprising, as the election was held on a Saturday, and Mr Jindal’s overwhelming popularity, not to mention his crushing financial advantage, made his victory an all-but-foregone conclusion. He is an unusual figure in Louisiana politics: Ivy League educated, young and born in Baton Rouge just months after his parents emigrated there from Punjab. When he was elected four years ago, at 36, he was the youngest governor and the only Indian-American one (in 2010 South Carolina elected Nikki Haley, born to Punjabi parents six months after Mr Jindal). He has pushed hard for ethics reform; no mean feat in a state that, as one former congressman put it, is half underwater and half under indictment.
Mr Jindal won every parish—taking 38% of the vote even in heavily Democratic New Orleans—and exceeded his victory four years ago by 12 points. A couple of the other races on the ballot—particularly for lieutenant-governor—were more hotly contested, but in the end Republicans won them all. They now hold every statewide office save one Senate seat in Congress, to which Mary Landrieu perilously clings.
The question now is how long Mr Jindal remains in office. If Republicans win the presidency, he could find himself in the cabinet. If Rick Perry wins the nomination, he could find himself sharing the ticket: he endorsed Mr Perry early and enthusiastically. Should Barack Obama win, Mr Jindal could easily snatch that one last Senate seat from Ms Landrieu. Mr Jindal says he plans to serve out his full term as governor. Such plans are easily changed.
当前问题是，金达尔的州长任期会有多长。如果共和党赢得总统大选，他也许就能跻身内阁。如果瑞奇?佩里（Rick Perry）赢得总统候选人提名，金达尔也许也能成为候选人之一：他一开始就全力支持佩里。如果巴拉克?奥巴马（Barack Obama）成功连任，金达尔也许就能轻易获得兰德鲁手中的议员席位。金达尔说他计划担任州长一职直至任期结束。不过，这种计划很容易就改弦易辙。