Friday, October 19, 2007

Signs of Intelligent Life in Louisiana

For all they've been through, it appears sanity may reign and the people of Louisiana will get a competent governor.
BATON ROUGE, La. - Four years after he lost a heated battle for governor, Rep. Bobby Jindal is well ahead of the pack in a repeat run that carries a different kind of drama: Can he get enough votes to win outright and avoid a runoff?

If he gets more than 50 percent of the vote in Saturday's primary, the 36-year-old, Oxford-educated son of Indian immigrants will become Louisiana's first nonwhite governor since Reconstruction and the youngest U.S. governor in office.

The Republican's prospects have brightened thanks to three years of congressional experience, a splintered Democratic field and an incumbent whose political fortunes were done in by Hurricane Katrina.

Polls have shown Jindal has the support of nearly half the state's voters, and no one else is even close in the field of a dozen candidates.

"I personally think that Bobby Jindal will take it in the first round," said Pearson Cross, a University of Louisiana at Lafayette political scientist.

Under Louisiana's open primary system, all candidates for governor are running against each other, regardless of party.

Jindal lost to Democrat Kathleen Blanco in 2003, garnering 48 percent of the vote, but has run as a sort of quasi-incumbent since the governor ended her re-election bid earlier this year. Blanco has been sharply criticized for the state's sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the recovery effort will remain a central issue for her successor.

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