As polls open in Louisiana, Jindal seen as shoo-in

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 22, 2011 12:23 PM
As polls open in Louisiana, Jindal seen as shoo-in

By Erin Mulvaney

(Reuters) - Voters headed to the polls on Saturday in Louisiana, where Republican Governor Bobby Jindal was expected to easily win reelection without having to compete in a run-off vote.

Polls were due to stay open until 8 p.m., when Louisiana voters will decide between Jindal, a national Republican figure who has snagged millions in campaign donations, and nine poorly-funded opponents.

Political analysts in the state have said the election marks one of the first times when the incumbent has not been challenged by at least one elected official.

Jindal, once seen as a potential presidential candidate, endorsed Governor Rick Perry for the Republican nomination and is considered a possible vice presidential contender. He has said, however, that if reelected he will serve his entire term.

Recent polls suggest the first-term Louisiana governor may easily win a second term against his opponents, who are polling in the single digits. In one poll released this month by WWL-TV in New Orleans, 57 percent of registered voters said they'd choose Jindal, while his nine opponents garnered only 15 percent combined.

Louisiana's open primary system pits candidates of all parties against each other on one ballot. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote on Saturday, the highest contenders will meet in a runoff election.

This is Jindal's third race for governor. He lost in 2003 to Democrat Kathleen Blanco, who won in a runoff with 51 percent of the vote. In 2007, he beat 12 other candidates and won 54 percent of the vote without a run off.

The Times-Picayune in New Orleans endorsed the incumbent this week. The editorial said that although the governor has "too often seemed detached from the legislative process and was frequently distracted by the national Republican spotlight" they trust him to succeed in his second term.

The other candidates include his nearest challenger Democrat Tara Hollis, a schoolteacher; independent Ron Ceasar, an accountant and progressive activist; Democrat Androniki Papazoglakis, a policy director for a nonprofit dealing with domestic violence issues; Democrat Trey Roberts, a history teacher; Libertarian Scott Lewis, a previous candidate for secretary of state; and Cary Deaton, a Democratic attorney.

(Erin Mulvaney reported from Beaumont, Texas. Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Cynthia Johnston)