As the presidential campaign spotlight turns ever so briefly on Louisiana, it’s worth noting how far the Republicans have come from the notion that 2016 would be the Year of the Governor.
That’s one of many, many things Chris Christie may have been contemplating during Donald Trump’s interminable Super Tuesday victory speech/press conference. Relegated to the role of unconvincing cheerleader, the New Jersey governor and former presidential contender flatly introduced Trump, then stood silently on camera behind him with an expression that was part “What have I done?” and part “How on earth did I get here?”
What Christie did when he endorsed the brashly divisive billionaire is between him and his conscience. How he got there is the more interesting question.
When this whole process started eons ago, many experts predicted that voters who found President Obama’s experience lacking would find executive records appealing. And indeed, the field filled with governors, not just Christie but Florida’s Jeb Bush, Texas’ Rick Perry, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, Ohio’s John Kasich and of course, Louisiana’s own Bobby Jindal.
Turns out governing experience what not what most primary voters wanted. Only Kasich is still in the race, and he’s trailing a proudly inexperienced rich guy and a couple of one-term senators, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, whose resumes are pretty reminiscent of Obama’s.
There are many reasons this is so, but one could be how these governors have behaved in office. Rather than show the world what they could do by running a state well, Jindal and Christie in particular tailored their policies and priorities to sell on the national stage.
And both paid the price back home. Jindal left office in January with stunningly low approval numbers, and anger over his fiscal irresponsibility is about the only thing Republicans and Democrats in Baton Rouge have in common. Christie too is deeply unpopular in his own state. After he shocked the world by signing on as a Trump surrogate, six New Jersey newspapers published a joint editorial calling him to resign.
“We’re fed up with Gov. Chris Christie’s arrogance,” the papers wrote. “We’re fed up with his opportunism. We’re fed up with his hypocrisy.”
Jindal, of course, is back on the presidential trail too these days, on behalf of former rival Rubio. Unlike Christie, he’s no longer ignoring his day job, and happily, Louisiana taxpayers are no longer paying for his security detail’s travel. And unlike Christie, Jindal’s appearances in places like South Carolina and Oklahoma have attracted little interest; nobody much, either here or out there in the rest of the country, seems to care what he’s up to.
Given the pounding Christie’s taking for his new partnership with Trump, maybe Jindal should be grateful for that small favor.
‘Grace notes’ is a daily feature by Advocate columnist Stephanie Grace. To read more of her content, including her full columns, click here.