You can add another name to the already-crowded Republican presidential primary field, and it's a familiar one for citizens of the Bayou State. On Wednesday, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal announced he's running for president in 2016, bringing the grand total of GOP candidates to 13 — a big number, considering only ten get to participate in the first Republican primary debate.
Jindal's political fortunes have been rather up-and-down over the past several years, his once up-and-coming reputation having long since been marred by absolutely dismal approval ratings in his home state.
But regardless, this was always what most observers assumed the culmination would be — a run at the GOP nomination, in spite of whatever challenges or pitfalls might await. As FiveThirtyEight observed, Jindal is probably making this move later than he should have, given a far rosier set of circumstances for him back in 2012. But hey, you only get one shot at life, right?
Jindal is the fourth governor officially in the Republican field, and the only one still serving, alongside Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, Jeb Bush of Florida, and George Pataki of New York (current Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is also widely expected to enter the race, but he hasn't yet made it official).
Jindal's early life and his ascension to the Louisiana governorship represents, in a way, an idyllic vision of how a young, first-generation American can make it big. Born to Indian parents just months after they immigrated to the United States, Jindal would excel in high school and become an Oxford Rhodes scholar, giving him something in common with typically progressive/Democratic figures like former President Bill Clinton, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, to name a few.
And, despite losing his first run at public office in 2003, he's never been electorally defeated since then, a trend that he'd sure love to continue. In the event that he doesn't win the White House, which is a pretty realistic possibility, he could have trouble staying in office in any capacity — given his sub-30 percent approval rating in Louisiana, his in-state appeal seems to have waned considerably since his resounding reelection in 2012.
If you're curious about Jindal's politics, you should probably brace yourself, since he's got a track record in Louisiana that's bound to make liberals and progressives pretty hot under the collar. Jindal is a staunch conservative in most areas.
- A devout Christian from a young age, Jindal is an anti-abortion hardliner, earning a 100 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee, and has voted against embryonic stem cell research as a result.
- He's opposed to same-sex marriage, going so far as to issue a controversial executive order aimed at protecting the interests of marriage equality opponents.
- He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare, whatever you want to call it), and replace it with a Republican-backed health care solution. While the reality of what a full-fledged Republican plan would look like is entirely unclear, if the Congress could even pass such a replacement, he did release a 28-page primer on what he'd prefer to see.
- In 1994, he wrote about performing an exorcism on an allegedly Devil-possessed young woman for the New Oxford Review, a fact which kind of speaks for itself. Make no mistake, Jindal is evidently a hyper-religious man.
Louisiana's fiscal state of affairs hasn't great shakes lately, either, as it's currently running a budget deficit of more than $1 billion. According to Politico, the state had a $900 million surplus when Jindal first took office in 2009.
As impolitic as it may be to say, however, appealing to the people of Louisiana might not be a top priority for Jindal right now — his home state's primary typically falls after the colossal Super Tuesday, which boasts primary contests across 12 states. Simply put, without a hot start Jindal's presidential chances could be effectively over before the people of his own state get to cast a vote.
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