If Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal’s poll numbers are to be believed, and there is little reason to doubt them, Democrats will barely make a dent in his re-election bid.
Perhaps that is why the Democratic State Central Committee refused to solidify behind a candidate, despite four choices in the governor’s race. Perhaps staying silent is preferable to backing a sure loser.
The choices are Metairie lawyer Cary Deaton, Haynesville schoolteacher Tara Hollis, sexual violence awareness advocate “Niki Bird” Papazoglakis and Gretna schoolteacher Ivo “Trey” Roberts.
None has significant financial backing.
Three of the four only recently joined the Democratic Party.
Jindal’s polling firm recently surveyed 800 voters about their voting plans.
More than 50 percent said they plan to vote for Jindal on Oct. 22, enough to hand the governor an outright victory.
Hollis and Deaton finished second and third in the poll with 7.4 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.
If those numbers hold, the best they can do is tell their children and grandchildren they once ran for governor.
Democratic Party officials met last month at the State Capitol, just weeks after failing to field a major candidate in any of the big races on the October ballot.
The party’s chairman, Buddy Leach, did his best to instill hope, a tough thing to do when your party is struggling to survive.
He insisted a funeral should not be held for the Democratic Party, despite Republican majorities in the House and the Senate, and despite the governor’s clear edge in his bid for a second term.
Jindal went on television early in the campaign to tout his work on creating jobs. TV commercial buys are expensive.
Hollis is the only Democratic candidate to do one so far and only to a limited audience.
“What wins campaigns? Money,” state Sen. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, said.
Leach offered an inspirational quotation, ironically from Abraham Lincoln, who was a Republican for most of his political career.
“The probability that we may fail in support of a cause ought not deter us from the support of a cause if we feel it is just,” Leach quoted Lincoln as once saying.
Three of the Democrats running for governor — Hollis, Papazoglakis and Roberts — spoke to the party in the huge, ornate chamber where House representatives meet.
They made their best pitches, offered their platforms.
Papazoglakis and Roberts said they did not expect to leave the chamber with an endorsement.
“The party explained that it was highly unlikely the DSCC would endorse a single candidate with multiple in the race so I did not expect them to endorse one of us,” Papazoglakis said.
Roberts said that was his understanding as well.
He said he viewed the trip to Baton Rouge as an opportunity to address the leading Democrats.
“(Buddy) Leach made it clear that none of us were asked to run, but none of us would be asked to drop out,” Roberts said.
Hollis said she had a different expectation.
“I expected them to make an endorsement. Several members were prepared to make a motion,” she said.
Members of the Democratic State Central Committee listened to the speeches, politely applauded, then adjourned without putting their collective weight behind a gubernatorial candidate.
Perhaps they were thinking of another Lincoln quotation: “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”
Michelle Millhollon covers the Governor’s Office for The Advocate’s Capitol news bureau. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.