Other than writing checks to candidates, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s involvement in Saturday’s legislative races was publicly sedate until former state Sen. James David Cain rankled him.
Cain, a Republican, criticized the governor for backing incumbent state Sen. John Smith in a three-person race that features Cain, Smith and Terry Fowler.
In a television ad, Cain questioned why the Republican governor would support a longtime Democrat. Smith, R-Leesville, only recently joined the Republican Party.
The governor fired back by spending nearly $100,000 of his own campaign funds to launch a television commercial criticizing Cain for using his legislative years toward his teacher’s retirement. The ad is airing in the Alexandria and Lake Charles areas.
It also can be seen on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXiuyP_Itac&feature=youtu.be.
“We felt it was important to respond to James David Cain’s ad. He threw mud at the governor,” the governor’s campaign aide, Timmy Teepell, said Wednesday.
Teepell shared a link to the governor’s ad through Twitter.
“Hey, James David Cain … what goes around … comes around,” he tweeted, adding that, “there’s more where that came from.”
Cain said he feels dismayed and shocked after welcoming Jindal into his home and helping him on the campaign trail in past governor’s races.
“I just hope no one ever does his family like he’s doing me,” he said.
Cain said he took the retirement benefits because he does not have Smith’s wealth.
With no well-financed opponents challenging his re-election bid, Jindal is focusing on the races for the Legislature and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Legislators vote on the governor’s policy proposals. BESE will select the state’s next education superintendent.
There are 19 contested races in the state Senate. The governor is getting involved in 10 of them.
In the Louisiana House, the governor is supporting candidates in 29 of the 62 contested races.
Seven of the eight elected BESE seats are up for grabs. Jindal is backing candidates in five of the seven races.
The governor is writing checks to candidates from his multimillion-dollar campaign fund. He also is helping the Louisiana Republican Party raise money for a “victory fund” to elect a more conservative Legislature and BESE.
Teepell said Jindal and the fund have spent more than $1.5 million on legislative and BESE races.
Through his campaign fund, Jindal made $272,500 in direct contributions to candidates.
Victory fund dollars, Teepell said, were used to send 1.5 million pieces of mail and to make nearly 2 million phone calls on candidates’ behalf.
He said the governor also appeared in an ad for Smith.
LSU communications professor Bob Mann, who worked for Democratic former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, said Jindal is trying to build a friendlier and more compliant Legislature.
“In some ways he’s going to have more of a challenge in the second term because he’s going to be a lame duck,” Mann said.
Jindal cannot seek a consecutive third term.
Mann said he is perplexed that Jindal is spending so much time on campaigns when he has not spelled out platforms for his second term.
In campaign commercials, Jindal talks about his work on creating jobs, but does not mention what he plans to do in health care, education and other areas.
“I don’t know what his ultimate motive is,” Mann said.