Louisiana elected its governor on the first ballot for the first time in recent memory, and the voters sent a message to the corrupt Democratic machine at the same time. Bobby Jindal, who narrowly lost a runoff four years ago, becomes the first Indian-American governor of a state after prevailing against a desperate opposition that stooped low enough to smear Jindal over religion:
Republican Bobby Jindal won election as Louisiana governor Saturday, setting a string of firsts and leaving no doubt that the state's voters strongly desire new leadership two years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Jindal, 36, will be the nation's youngest sitting governor. The son of Indian immigrants, he will also be the first Indian American governor in U.S. history, and the first nonwhite to hold the job in Louisiana since Reconstruction.
The election of Jindal, who is a conservative, underscores the fast-fading fortunes of the Democratic Party in Louisiana after the hurricanes. ...
Democrats make up about half of the 2.8 million registered voters in Louisiana, outnumbering Republicans by nearly 2 to 1. But the number of registered Democrats has dropped by nearly 57,000 since the 2005 hurricanes. Residents have criticized the state government, which is dominated by Democrats, as incompetent and corrupt.
Jindal capitalized on that sentiment, making the fight to root out Louisiana's corruption a central theme of his campaign. One of his commercials portrayed his Democratic rivals as crooked clowns with cash coming out of their pockets.
Democrats have used Hurricane Katrina to beat up on George Bush for the past two years, but that didn't fool Louisiana voters. They saw the difference between the rescue and repair efforts in Mississippi and Louisiana, and knew the difference was the state and local government responses. The Democrats have run the state as corrupt incompetents, but their poor leadership didn't cost lives until 2005. The voters have begun cleaning house in Louisiana.
That didn't keep the Democrats from trying some character assassination on their way out. They attempted to twist Jindal's Catholic apologetics as an attack on Protestants by taking sentences out of context, and in at least one instance misattributing a quote from John Calvin to Jindal. The Democratic Party tried raising a million dollars to stoke anti-Catholic bigotry in Louisiana to beat Jindal, but in the end only indicted themselves for desperation and intellectual and moral bankruptcy.
Now Jindal takes his place in an important executive position at a critical time for Louisiana. New Orleans needs leadership and action, sorely missing from local and state government since Katrina hit. The state itself still suffers from the endemic corruption left behind by the Democrats who still dominate the state bureaucracies. If he can clean up Louisiana and return New Orleans to health and safety, Jindal may get a lot more attention in eight years as a Republican candidate for the White House -- and at 44, he could electrify conservative politics in 2015.
The stage is set. If Jindal performs, this could be the start of a long run.