Jindal’s RGA job to keep him on the road
Anyone thinking the end of the 2012 presidential election cycle will lessen Gov. Bobby Jindal’s out-of-state travel and return his focus squarely to Louisiana likely can put those assumptions aside.
Jindal’s been tapped to lead the Republican Governors Association next year, a position that can bolster his political ambitions, help him stay in the national spotlight and most certainly keep him on the road and the GOP fundraising circuit.
Louisiana’s governor will chair the group in 2013, followed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie a year later, under a plan worked out by the current chairman and expected to win final approval from the Republican governors at their annual conference in November.
The RGA post has been considered a steppingstone to seeking higher office, with Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, for example, both serving as chairman before pursuing a presidential candidacy. The job could help Jindal line up support for a future White House bid, if he’s interested.
If Romney wins the presidential election in November, the RGA leader would help push policies for the new president. If President Barack Obama is re-elected, the governors’ association chief would continue acting as a mouthpiece for the Republican opposition to the president.
Either way it’s a prominent job in national politics, not on the state level.
And it’s another indication that Jindal, passed over by Romney as a running mate, is seeking some future role beyond the Louisiana governor’s mansion, despite his repeated assertions that he’s got the job he wants right here.
Jindal’s maintained a busy travel and fundraising pace almost since the first days he took office in 2008.
Over five years as Louisiana’s chief executive, Jindal’s given campaign speeches, traveled to fundraisers and dropped into Republican events in 39 states and Washington, D.C., hitting key presidential race states like Iowa multiple times.
The number of trips has steadily grown, with more than one-third of the 160 different out-of-state trips he’s taken in office happening since January. In the last month alone, Jindal’s been to Nevada, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Montana and New Hampshire. Each trip involved Republican campaigns, events and fundraisers.
He raised money for an Indiana candidate for governor, spoke to the New Hampshire Republican Party, traveled on a bus tour to oppose an Iowa Supreme Court justice who supported same sex marriage and campaigned for a Nevada senator.
Most recently, he was in Virginia campaigning for Romney’s presidential bid with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.
As he’s traveled to dozens of states to collect campaign dollars and tout GOP causes and candidates, Jindal’s built up a network of fundraising and political connections that could position him well for a national campaign.
The governor and his staff insist that Jindal is working on Louisiana business even when he’s not in the state and that the full out-of-state travel schedule doesn’t detract from his attention on Louisiana issues.
Polls have shown concern from some voters about the frequency of the trips, and even a few Republican lawmakers have quietly questioned Jindal’s commitment to state business when he seems to be eyeing a bigger political prize.
At home, he’s got some significant issues at hand: deep cuts to the LSU-run public hospital system, lawsuits over his education and retirement policies, still-looming budget shortfalls and heavy criticism from lawmakers about prison and health care facility closures without their input.
Maybe it’s easier to be on the road.
Melinda Deslatte covers Louisiana politics
for The Associated Press.