With Gov. Bobby Jindal poised to snag a plum political role in national circles, a poll released Monday delves into who might succeed him as governor in three years.
The poll, prepared by Magellan Strategies, puts U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., slightly ahead of Democratic New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu in a slate of possible candidates for the 2015 governor’s race.
Landrieu’s sister, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., fared less favorably in the survey, with 50.8 percent responding that they would prefer someone different should she try to hang onto her job.
Sen. Landrieu, who is up for re-election in 2014, declined comment on the poll Monday.
Exactly who underwrote the poll is unclear.
Magellan principal John Diez, who released the poll, moved to Baton Rouge in 2006 to become executive director of Vitter’s Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority. The committee’s website still listed Diez as executive director Monday.
Diez did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
Vitter’s spokesman, Luke Bolar, said the senator neither backed nor funded the poll.
The poll’s release coincided with reports that Jindal is the favorite to become the 2013 chairman of the Republican Governors Association. The role could be an important networking opportunity for Jindal, who cannot seek re-election in three years.
“Looks like it’s heading that way, but the vote is not until mid-November,” said Jindal’s political adviser, Timmy Teepell of the chairmanship possibility.
By becoming chairman, Jindal would leapfrog to the position without first serving as vice chairman. He currently serves as gala chairman of the organization that raises millions of dollars a year to promote Republican causes.
Pearson Cross, chairman of the Department of Political Science at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, said the role would allow Jindal to build relationships with other Republican governors. “It’s a pretty big deal,” Cross said.
A recent chairman, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, ran for president.
The Magellan poll, conducted Oct. 2 through Oct. 4 with 2,682 likely voters covered a number of topics, including presidential, congressional and gubernatorial elections. The margin of error is 1.9 percent.
More than 60 percent of the poll participants described the Republican Party as best representing their points of view on important issues. Seventy percent of the participants were white; 25 percent were black.
Poll respondents were asked for whom they would vote if the 2015 governor’s election were held today. Their choices were Vitter, Mayor Landrieu, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, state Treasurer John Kennedy, state Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain and New Orleans businessman John Georges.
The results: 31.1 percent picked Vitter; 29.4 percent picked Landrieu; and 16.7 percent were undecided or wanted none of the choices. Dardenne, Kennedy, Strain and Georges each garnered less than 10 percent.
“I remain completely focused on fighting for all Louisianians in the U.S. Senate, nothing else. I really appreciate this and all the other encouragement in that work,” Vitter said in a prepared statement. He declined a telephone interview about the poll.
Mayor Landrieu’s spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. Neither Kennedy nor Dardenne has publicly announced plans to run for governor. Strain, who has expressed interest, did not respond to a request for comment.
Georges, who lost the 2007 governor’s race despite spending part of his personal wealth on it, said he was interested to see that neither Vitter nor Landrieu garnered more than 50 percent of support in the poll.
“Those are definitely the frontrunners, but that race is three years away. A lot can change,” he said.
The poll also narrowed the governor’s race down to a match between just Vitter and Landrieu, asking for whom respondents would vote.
The results: 45.2 percent picked Vitter and 39.8 percent picked Landrieu. The remaining respondents were undecided.
Asked about the job Vitter is doing as senator, 59.1 percent said they approved of his work performance.
Advocate Washington bureau chief Jordan Blum contributed to this report.