Jindal takes an easy ride back into La. office

By Melinda DeSlatte
The Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — It was a landslide win by any measure.

Gov. Bobby Jindal had a cake walk into a second term, turning back nine challengers who couldn’t muster name recognition or significant financing to put up a major challenge.

It was an uncommon turn of events in a state where gubernatorial races usually are spirited and high-spending affairs.

And since Louisiana went to an open-primary system in 1975, it was the most lopsided primary victory in a governor’s race.

Jindal overwhelmed a field of nine competitors in the open primary, getting 66 percent of the vote.

“I will use every day, every hour of these next four years to make Louisiana the very best that we can be. I don’t believe on resting on our past accomplishments. I don’t believe in taking time off,” Jindal told a packed hotel ballroom of supporters.

All seven of Louisiana’s statewide elected officials will continue new terms in January.

Incumbent Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne held onto his post with 53 percent of the vote, after a fierce battle with Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, in a race that turned bitter quickly. Secretary of State Tom Schedler squeaked to victory in a tight contest with House Speaker Jim Tucker, receiving just over 50 percent support. All four men are Republicans.

In other statewide competitions, Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon and Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain, both in the GOP, won re-election, after drawing opposition from little-known candidates who had raised few dollars to campaign against them.

At the top of the ballot was the governor’s race.

The 40-year-old Jindal, who took office in 2008, piled up $15 million in campaign cash from around the nation and attracted no Democratic challengers with statewide name recognition or fundraising heft in the face of his consistently high approval ratings and a near-collapse of the Democratic Party’s clout in the state.

Jindal’s leading challenger, Tara Hollis, a Democrat from north Louisiana, was an outsider to the political establishment and was unable to drum up the cash needed to challenge Jindal or mount a big-ticket advertising competition.

Spending only a few thousand dollars, Hollis received support from 18 percent of voters. All the other candidates were in single digits.

The governor celebrated his re-election with LSU football coach Les Miles, who was rejoicing in his team’s explosive victory over Auburn earlier in the day. Jindal told the crowd, “You haven’t seen anything yet.”

“We’ve got a lot more work to do over these next four years. We’ve got to grow our economy even more quickly. We’ve got to reform our education system more aggressively to give our kids the best chance. We’ve got to squeeze all the waste out of government and make it work for the citizens,” he said.

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