FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Election Day in Louisiana
[T]he electorate will settle increasingly nasty bouts for lieutenant governor, secretary of state and the state board of education. Local ballots are dotted with contested legislative matchups, a handful of judicial contests in New Orleans, and parish offices in Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, St. Charles and St. John the Baptist.
Voters also must navigate a gaggle of state constitutional amendments and several local tax issues at the parish and municipal level.
Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Any voter in line by 8 p.m. should be allowed to vote. Louisiana requires voters to present valid identification.
The big national name on the ballot is Bobby Jindal, up for re-election to his second term as governor; Jindal, the nation’s first Indian-American governor, turned 40 in June.
In Louisiana’s idiosyncratic system, Jindal needs 50% of the vote today to avoid a runoff. He enters the day a prohibitive favorite:
Jindal, who easily won his first term in 2007, has raised over $11 million for his bid, trumping his nearest rival, Democrat and Clairborne Parish teacher Tara Hollis, who has raised only $40,000, of which $18,000 came in the form of in-kind contributions.
Jindal has been leading in recent polls, coming in at 57 percent in a WWL-TV poll earlier this month, with Hollis polling at five percent.
Louisiana, as a socially conservative Southern state, has trended Republican at the national level for decades, but only after 2005′s Hurricane Katrina left the state’s Democratic political elite badly discredited did Republicans really break through – Jindal won the Governor’s mansion in 2007 and in 2010 gained the first GOP legislative majority in the state since Reconstruction. The inability of the state’s Democratic machine to mount a credible challenge to Jindal is symbolic of those shifting fortunes in the state and the region, and also of Jindal’s status as a rising star in the national GOP: Jindal is the same age as Mitt Romney in 1987, Rick Perry in 1991, Barack Obama in 2001, and Ronald Reagan in 1951. We will be hearing a lot more from him in years to come.