The newest candidate in the governor's race is Bobby Jindal, who served as secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals under Gov. Mike Foster and most recently as U.S. Department of Health and Human Services assistant secretary for planning and evaluation under President George W. Bush. At the news conference announcing his campaign, the 31-year-old Jindal was joined by Foster, former Congressman Bob Livingston, and State Rep. and former U.S. Senate candidate Tony Perkins.
Foster has introduced the gubernatorial hopeful to key supporters and has also sent a fundraising appeal to 200 of his largest contributors on Jindal's behalf. Although having Foster in his corner is a major coup, it could hurt him with some staunch conservatives -- many of whom believe that Foster has not pursued a traditional Republican agenda as governor. "If you're a conservative in Louisiana, at some point, you've been lied to by Mike Foster," says Shreveport Republican State Central Committee member Sandy McDade. "I don't know where Foster is going to line up votes for Jindal now because there's no one left to lie to and certainly no one's going to believe him."
Foster replies: "Consider the source -- a collection of malcontents. God bless 'em."
Gubernatorial Hopefuls Closely Tied to Jefferson Parish
In this fall's incredibly wide open race for governor, at least 12 candidates have either officially announced or expressed serious interest in the race. Of these 12, seven are Republicans and five are Democrats. None of the five announced Democrats are from the metropolitan New Orleans area; four of the Republican candidates, however, have strong ties to Jefferson Parish.
State Sen. Ken Hollis represents Jefferson Parish. State Sen. John Hainkel represents part of the parish, as does Public Service Commissioner Jay Blossman. Former Gov. Dave Treen, who now lives in Mandeville, represented Jefferson Parish as congressman in the '70s and had his official residence in Metairie while serving as governor from 1980 to 1984. And there is a still a chance that other candidates with ties to Jefferson Parish could enter the race, including Republican Congressman David Vitter or Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick, a Democrat.
With four or more gubernatorial candidates from the area, Jefferson Parish will be one of the major battleground areas in the statewide election. It is interesting that all of the gubernatorial candidates who have ties to Jefferson Parish -- as of now -- are Republican. Yet according to the latest census figures, Jefferson Parish remains a predominantly Democratic parish. As of Dec. 6, 2002, 47 percent of the voters in the parish were registered as Democrats (131,894), 30 percent were registered Republicans (84,081), and 23 percent were registered as Other/No Party (63,616).
Although the parish is considered to be conservative overall, a significant registration edge for the Democratic Party makes it no surprise that three of the five major elected parish officials are staunch Democrats: District Attorney Connick, Council Chairman Aaron Broussard and Sheriff Harry Lee. Furthermore, with Broussard the strong favorite to replace Republican Tim Coulon as parish president, the Democratic Party is posed to take control of the top elected position in Jefferson Parish.
With Jefferson Parish Councilmember Nick Giambelluca and his colleagues term-limited this year, there will be all open seats on the Council. The campaigns for many of those positions have already begun.
In the race to replace Giambelluca, State Rep. Jennifer Sneed has put an end to months of speculation and officially declared her candidacy. Sneed was elected to the Louisiana Legislature in 1999 to represent District 81, which covers a diverse area including Old Metairie and Bucktown. As a previously elected official, Sneed -- the wife of attorney Fred Heebe, who is still under consideration for the position of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana -- will start as the favorite in the Council race. She is expected to make her formal campaign announcement in June after the end of the upcoming legislative session.
Local attorney and Republican State Central Committee member Mitch Gibbs is seriously considering opposing Sneed and is presently meeting with consultants and supporters. Gibbs unsuccessfully opposed Sneed in the 1999 state legislative race and finished in the middle of the pack in a 13-candidate race to succeed U.S. Rep. David Vitter.
Alliance to Honor Broussard and Rebowe
At its 2003 Outstanding Public Servant Awards Banquet, the Jefferson Alliance will honor Jefferson Parish Council Chairman Aaron Broussard and Metairie CPA Philip Rebowe as outstanding public servants of the year. The banquet will take place at 7 p.m. on March 12 at Chateau Country Club in Kenner. Tickets are $40 each. For more information, call 465-9069.