Like some of you, I’m still not sure which candidate I’ll support in the Oct. 24 primary election for governor. The current occupant has set such a low bar that it won’t take much effort for anyone to clear it. It’s obvious that whoever occupies the governor’s mansion in January will be focused, unlike Bobby Jindal, on a long-term fix to our fiscal mess. All four of the major candidates have indicated they’ll expand Medicaid and will work to rebuild higher education.
If the winner just shows up for work and refuses to use the job as a platform for seeking higher office, he should be a smashing success compared to his predecessor.
Of course, just noting that any of the major candidates would be an improvement over Jindal is like saying that a car in working condition will serve you better than a rusted-out jalopy. That’s obvious, but it’s not enough. You’ll take any car that runs, but you’d be wise to put your money into the best possible vehicle.
The same principle applies to the governor’s race. Any candidate would do better than what we have, but some surely are better than others. So how should we judge them as Election Day approaches? Here are 10 suggestions:
Sincerity. Which candidate is most likely to tell us the truth about the limitations of his powers and what it will take to address our state’s problems? We’re electing a governor, not a messiah. If someone is pitching grand “solutions” but won’t disclose how he would pay for or implement them, be skeptical.
Courage. What candidate might be willing to risk re-election to do the right thing? Might he ever defy the special interests that fund his campaign?
Honesty. Is the person a forthright person? Does he pretend to be something he’s not in his personal or professional life? Beware of candidates who brag about their family values, honesty or fiscal rectitude. On this subject, I am reminded of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote, “The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.”
Transparency. Related to honesty is transparency. Under Jindal, there’s been little of that. If you want honest public officials, you need transparent, open government. Which candidate is likely to support legislation allowing us to know more about what he’s doing?
Will he communicate with us? Related to transparency is communication. Jindal rarely talks to the Louisiana news media and, in his second term, has abandoned the state. How committed is the candidate to subjecting himself to regular scrutiny from the press and attending public forums at which the public can question (or criticize) him directly?