Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Sun Apr 29 15:03:35 EDT 2007

As candidate pool narrows, contenders establish gubernatorial goals
By: Sarah Yokubaitis
Posted: 4/26/07
In a race that has already seen more controversy in its early months than
some elections have by November, the Louisiana governor's race is shaping up
to be a hotly contested fight. As the dust finally settles after several
months of confusion, the field of candidates has begun to narrow to the top
contenders - U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-Kenner, Democrat and Public Service
Commissioner Foster Campbell and state Sen. Walter Boasso, R-Arabi.

With most of the legislature up for re-election because of newly enacted
term limits and Gov. Kathleen Blanco not seeking re-election, the 2007 race
will undoubtedly have a major impact on the face of the state's leadership.
For the past several months, the election was caught up in a whirlwind of
dispute as speculation ran rampant across the state that former Democratic
Sen. John Breaux would enter the race despite lingering questions about his
Louisiana residency. After Blanco announced she would not seek re-election,
Breaux asked the state attorney general for an opinion on his eligibility to
run but ultimately did not enter the race after the attorney general
declined to write an opinion.

As election season kicks into high gear with the field of candidates set,
students can begin to evaluate their choices for Louisiana's next governor:
Jindal, Foster and Boasso.


Jindal, the current front-runner, said the 2007 governor's race is a chance
for voters to change their state's future.

"After the awful devastation of 2005 - the awful hurricanes - we've been
given a unique opportunity to move Louisiana to the top of some of these
good lists. I think this is the best chance we'll get to remake our
education systems, our health care systems, our tax codes, our economic
outlook," he said. "I think the decisions we will make will certainly impact
not only our lives but our children's lives as well."

After losing to Blanco in 2003, Jindal's second campaign for governor
focuses on three key issues - jobs, education and health care.

"There's no silver bullet for turning our state around, but education is one
of the best predictors for making sure people do well with their jobs, are
less likely to get in trouble with the law and do better in terms of health
care," he said.

The former assistant secretary of Health and Human Services under President
George W. Bush and state secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and
Hospitals said he wants to revamp Louisiana's struggling health care system
to put more of an emphasis on preventative care. Jindal said he is also
concerned about Louisiana's continual decline in population and hopes to
reverse that trend by creating new jobs through tax incentives for
businesses and reducing income taxes.

"I remember going back to a high school reunion and realizing that so many
of my friends either weren't there or had to fly back or drive from Texas or
Georgia or California to come for the reunion," he said. "It made me realize
that as a state we're not going to be able to move to the top of these good
lists unless we can provide more opportunities for our people."

Jindal, graduate of Brown and Oxford universities and a Rhodes scholar, said
he plans to use state universities to create some of the new jobs.

"We need to create incentives for those research ideas to be transferred
from our universities' labs into the companies and businesses in Louisiana,"
he said. "I'd like to propose that the researchers and students get to keep
100 percent of the royalties as long as they're creating jobs and commercial
ideas in Louisiana."

As governor, Jindal said he would support the University's Flagship Agenda
and would not cut TOPS funding.

"LSU plays a critical role not only in education but in economic development
for our state, so I very strongly support the Flagship Agenda," he said.
"Right now, higher education and health care are funded last in the state's
budget, not first. That makes no sense. LSU and our other universities do
not receive the funding that their comparable institutions receive even in
the Southern region, much less across the country."

Jindal said he is concerned about the rising cost of a college education,
especially costs not covered by TOPS such as student fees and books.

"One of the things I think has been a problem is that you've seen many
attempts to go around TOPS, to create mandatory fees or other things that
are beginning to erode the value of the TOPS program. I'm deeply concerned
about that," said Jindal, who served as the youngest president of the
University of Louisiana system from 1999 to 2001. "The premise of TOPS was
clearly set forward - it says that if you take these courses, you get this
GPA, you do what we ask you to do, you'll get varying levels of support. I
think we need to be true to that."


Currently the lone Democrat in the race, Campbell's populist-style platform
hinges a massive overhaul of Louisiana's antiquated tax system and a
hardline approach to the oil industry.

"I want to get rid of income tax, and I have a plan to replace it by giving
it back to people who would spend a lot of it and stimulate the economy. I
also want to remove the severance tax and the corporate income tax," he
said. "I want to change the way we tax oil and gas in the state of
Louisiana. We are on the same tax system as we were on in 1921. We tax only
Louisiana oil. We ought to be taxing all the oil and gas processes - not
just domestic but foreign oil too."

In addition to a statewide referendum on an oil and gas tax constitutional
amendment, Campbell wants to use Louisiana's oil and gas industry to fix the
growing coastal erosion along the state's coast lines by forcing oil
corporations to pay up.

"Why isn't the rest of the [the field of candidates] asking the oil
companies to pay their fair share? They're much too cozy to the major oil
companies," Campbell said. "I truly believe that the oil companies own our
capital, and that's a damn shame. We need to do more to take care of the
people's interests and less to take care of the special interests."

Campbell, who has gained a reputation for being a Huey Long-esque politician
for his willingness to criticize big business and Northern Louisiana charm,
said post-Katrina Louisiana needs leaders willing to make the tough
decisions to turn the state around.

"We need strong leadership in Louisiana, and I can provide it," he said.
"Kathleen Blanco is a very fine woman; I have no doubt about that. But she's
overwhelmed, and she's in 10-foot water, and she's just not that tall."

As governor, Campbell said he would oppose any attempts to cut money from
the TOPS program or raise TOPS requirements past the nationwide average ACT

"The money's there. There's no sense in even talking about cutting the TOPS
program," he said. "TOPS should not be excluding kids. It ought to help
people go to college wherever they choose to go."

In other campus issues, Campbell said he is concerned about the decrease in
student seating for Tiger football games.

"I think all the kids ought to be able to go to the ball games. If you're an
LSU student, when you pay your fees in the fall, you ought to be able to go
see the ball game Saturday night," he said. "[Are] LSU ball games for
students or for the well-heeled?"


Boasso, former Democrat rumored to be switching back to his old party, has
made headlines in recent weeks for snubbing the GOP after the party endorsed
Jindal months before the qualifying date.

Boasso, who has been quoted as saying the "R" behind his name stands for
"revolution," said partisanship will hurt Louisiana's chances of rebuilding
from the 2005 hurricanes.

"The Republicans are not going to be able to fix the state by themselves.
The Democrats aren't going to be able fix the state by themselves," he said.
"It's going to take a leader who demands people to check their party labels
at the door and do what's right for Louisiana. That's the truth at the end
of the day."

The first-term senator and self-made millionaire said the state constitution
grants the governor of Louisiana more power than other governors, but that
power has to be used effectively.

"We aren't competitive as a state. We aren't doing anything to help people,"
Boasso said. "I'm tired of seeing people leaving our state. I'm either going
to be the guy in charge to straighten it out or move on like everyone else."

Boasso said he would support the University's Flagship Agenda as governor.

"I would like to see LSU be a real flagship university. You have to make
that the pinnacle of education in Louisiana," he said.

Boasso also said he would not cut the TOPS program and instead wants to use
the program to keep students in the state after graduation.

"The first thing we have to do is understand why people leave Louisiana," he
said. "Are we offering them the right opportunities once they get out of

Boasso said voters have a unique opportunity to change the face of state
leadership in the upcoming election.

"Louisiana is on its knees. Party politics are not going to help," he said.
"It's going to take someone who has the courage to make the hard decisions
and the right decisions and not worry about getting re-elected."

Contact Sarah Yokubaitis at
syokubaitis at lsureveille.com
C Copyright 2007 Daily Reveille

More information about the StBernard mailing list