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Statewide Endorsements

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Every campaign is also an education. We learn a lot about our state and the candidates, if not ourselves, every election season. The electoral process involves not only a search for the best leaders but also a quest for direction, inspiration and ideas. Nowadays, in the long, turbulent wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, we desperately need leaders to help jump-start the recovery and get our state moving in the right direction. Louisiana is losing entire families and businesses to states where people feel safer, children are better educated, the elderly are better cared for, government is seen as more ethical and the basic necessities of health care, housing and insurance are all more affordable.

This election is not just about better government and honest public officials; it's also about saving Louisiana. In that spirit, we humbly submit the following endorsements for the Saturday (Oct. 20) statewide primary election. (Any runoffs will be Nov. 17.)

Governor " We endorse Congressman Bobby Jindal for governor. Struck by the Kenner Republican's maturity as a candidate since we endorsed him four years ago, we neglected to mention that he's only 36 years old. We think Jindal's election will be a beacon for Louisiana's youth to come home and play a significant role in our recovery. A Rhodes scholar and graduate of Brown University, Jindal was appointed secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals at the age of 24, and then became the president's choice to lead a national bipartisan commission on Medicare. In these times of ethical uncertainty, Jindal's integrity is beyond reproach. Electing Jindal, an Indian American, will show the rest of the world that Louisiana has rejected its history of ignorance, racial bigotry and political corruption " and that we value educational excellence, racial harmony, economic opportunities, good government and the potential of our young people. For all these reasons, we urge our readers to elect Bobby Jindal as Louisiana's next governor.

Lt. Governor " Incumbent Mitch Landrieu, D-New Orleans, stepped up in a big way after Hurricane Katrina, teaching himself to drive a school bus so he could transport food, water, and medicine to those stranded in the flood. He then took the lead in standing up for Louisiana's vital hospitality industry and galvanizing support for our cultural economy. Where other local and state officials floundered, Landrieu boldly led. On another, equally important front, Landrieu is a veteran champion of racial progress. He battled neo-Nazi David Duke in the Legislature, and more recently he was the highest-ranking Louisiana official working to resolve racial discord in Jena, La. Now, the good citizens of Jena and the rest of Louisiana can count on his help with the hard work of racial reconciliation. Landrieu deserves another term as lieutenant governor.

Secretary of State " Incumbent Jay Dardenne, R-Baton Rouge, seeks re-election to Louisiana's third-highest elective office. Dardenne, 54, won the seat in a special election just last year, and we see no reason to replace him. He is honest, smart and fiscally conservative. He has good ideas about increasing voter participation as well as raising pay and reducing the long hours for our hard-working poll commissioners.

Attorney General " This office cries out for change. In that spirit, we recommend Tallulah District Attorney James D. 'Buddy" Caldwell. A veteran prosecutor, Caldwell will restore credibility and fairness to this office, which has been run with a heavy hand by the incumbent. Educated at Tulane Law School, Caldwell, 61, has been the district attorney of Tensas, East Carroll and Madison parishes for nearly 29 years. As attorney general, he will pursue public corruption cases (He has prosecuted errant parish sheriffs.) and beef up the office's civil division as well. He also will set up regional training seminars for local officials to reduce ethical conflicts and facilitate openness in government.

Insurance Commissioner " The Department of Insurance has a sorry record of corruption and abuse, but incumbent Jim Donelon is rewriting that history. A former state representative from Metairie, Donelon has the difficult task of trying to attract more insurers by creating a fair, stable regulatory market while aggressively protecting consumers, who need more choices and lower rates. He has pursued that goal with integrity and diligence, and we endorse his re-election.

Agriculture Commissioner " Every agriculture commissioner since 1960 has been indicted on corruption charges. The longtime incumbent has been cleared of recent corruption allegations, but voters are ready for a change. State Rep. Mike Strain, R-Covington, a successful veterinarian, will bring fresh energy, new ideas and unquestioned integrity to the job. Strain was one of three veterinarians from Louisiana to receive training in bio-terrorism awareness at the federal Centers for Disease Control. The incumbent candidly admitted he was unaware of the CDC program.

As we noted earlier, every campaign is also an education. We urge our readers to educate themselves about these and other candidates " and vote this Saturday.

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