June 8, 2010


Could the spill restore Jindal as a GOP whiz kid? (KEVIN McGILL, 06/08/10, AP)

Since the drilling rig operated by BP PLC exploded in April and unleashed a gusher of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Jindal has taken pains to rattle off all the state is doing to keep the oil from ruining a way of life. He ticks off lists of projects, how much oil-soaking boom is being used, where barges are being sent.

He lambasts a Democratic administration’s response that he says hasn’t done enough to protect the state’s shores. His own response has resonated strongly with politicians and residents who generally have given him high approval ratings during his two years in office.

“The governor’s out there. The governor knows what’s going on,” said Buggy Vegas, owner of a marina and vacation cabins on Grand Isle, where the oil spill has all but killed tourism and canceled major fishing competitions.

“He’s doing an A-plus job,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, who has complained that the Obama administration’s mitigation efforts were much too slow. “He’s attracting national attention to something that was, frankly, on the back burner of the administration.” [...]

Local officials, however, seem pleased with Jindal’s response. Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser is often at Jindal’s side, and Jefferson Parish Council member Chris Roberts said Jindal has shown keen interest in technical issues and problem-solving during various meetings with local officials.

Voters jaded by the response to Katrina helped Jindal win the governor’s office, and the oil spill could be the disaster that feeds his national ambitions — however unclear they may be. He’s made trips for fundraising and political speeches everywhere from California to New York, but flatly told a gathering of Republicans in March that he is not a candidate for president.

It could be months before it’s clear how well Jindal has handled this disaster. He guided the state through the devastation of hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008, “but now, there’s a new sort of disaster, with a new set of parameters,” said Gary Clark, a political scientist at Dillard University.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 8, 2010 5:56 PM
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