- The Washington Times - Monday, January 22, 2007

Republican Rep. Bobby Jindal yesterday declared his candidacy for the Louisiana governorship but vowed to delay campaigning until after the April conclusion of the state’s legislative session to avoid politicizing Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts.

Mr. Jindal, who lost to Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco in 2003, has a significant edge in early polling over Mrs. Blanco, a Democrat who has drawn criticism for her handling of the response to Katrina.

“Politics has a way of impeding progress, and Louisiana cannot afford to lose another second,” Mr. Jindal wrote in his e-mail announcement sent to supporters.

“The upcoming state legislative session this spring is vital. We cannot afford failure, and the surest way to attain failure is to politicize every initiative and decision.”

Mr. Jindal, whose parents emigrated from India, was elected to Congress at age 33 in 2004. He served as secretary of the state Health and Hospitals Department and in the Bush administration as an assistant secretary in the Health and Human Services Department in 2001.

A poll by the Southern Media and Opinion Research shows Mrs. Blanco’s support among voters is 35 percent, compared with 59 percent for Mr. Jindal. Mrs. Blanco defeated Mr. Jindal by four percentage points in 2003.

Mrs. Blanco has announced her intention to seek re-election in the primary set for Oct. 20; she could not be reached for comment yesterday. If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election will be held Nov. 17.

Mr. Jindal, the first to announce a candidacy to challenge Mrs. Blanco, emphasized his interest in contracting the race’s length — a move that runs counter to electoral trends.

“It is my belief that campaigns are too long as they are, and that people grow weary of the barrage of charges and countercharges,” Mr. Jindal said. “I want to avoid D.C.-style politics with mudslinging and instead focus on solving the problems that our state faces.”

The poll, conducted Jan. 12 to 14, shows that Mr. Jindal, whose district is in the New Orleans’ suburbs, received overwhelming support in New Orleans — 72 percent — while Mrs. Blanco pulled 22 percent support.

Mrs. Blanco’s low numbers are attributed to her responses to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Mrs. Blanco initially rejected President Bush’s offer to deploy federal troops, after waiting 24 hours to make a decision. Days later, Mrs. Blanco was wired for a television interview and whispered to her press secretary that she wished she had requested troops earlier.

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