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Jindal, Blanco will face off on Nov 15

By Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC
Last updated on: October 06, 2003 20:51 IST
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In the primaries for the gubernatorial post in Louisiana Jindal, on a Republican ticket, topped a field of 18 candidates that included as many as nine Democrats.

The contest for the second slot – and the right to face Jindal in the November 15 run-off – turned into a tough battle between Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Blanco and Attorney General Richard Ieyoub, who went neck to neck through the course of the counting, with under 7000 votes separating them at the three quarter mark.

The final tally for the top three read:

'Bobby' Jindal: 442,185
Kathleen Babineaux Blanco: 249,205
Richard Ieyoub: 223,194

Jindal's unexpected run from the front, in a deeply conservative Deep South state with a crucial 30 per cent black electorate that traditionally votes Democrat, has confounded political pundits.

Few gave the 32-year-old Indian-American, who had earlier served as assistant secretary in President George W Bush's Department of Health and Human Services, much of a chance despite his being a Rhodes Scholar who has held high level state and federal jobs.

Strong backing by incumbent Governor Mike Foster (himself a Republican and a Korean war veteran, who in 2000 had won the primaries outright in a landslide to win his second term in office), and a campaign that saw Jindal hit the popular chords of religion and employment, saw him zoom up the polls and, in the weeks leading up to the elections, assume the pole position.

The voting confirmed what the pollsters had been saying: Jindal led the field from the start, never once allowing the competition to come within sniffing distance.

In fact, so certain was the outcome even at the halfway stage, that celebrations had already begun in the ballroom at the Astro Crowne Plaza Hotel on Bourbon Street, in the French Quarter of New Orleans, where he and his supporters were camped.

Jindal will almost immediately begin campaigning for the big one, against Blanco. The match-up will provide the Republican a far tougher challenge -- while any comprehensive analysis has to wait for the parish-wise break-up to come in, a preliminary scan of the overall results indicates that Democrats Blanco and Ieyoub, between them, have more votes than Jindal.

In the face-off, with the Democratic vote consolidating, the contest should get more intense.

The Final Tally from 4,143 parishes (in alphabetical order):

Alan Allgood: 7,906
Patrick Henry 'Dat' Barthel: 7,335
Kathleen Babineaux Blanco: 249,205
Quentin R Brown, Jr: 2,473
'Hunt' Downer: 84,649
J D 'Boudreaux' Estilette: 6,446
Randy Ewing: 123,435
Richard Ieyoub: 223,194
'Bobby' Jindal: 442,185
J E Jumonville, Jr: 3,436
Patrick 'Live Wire' Landry: 7,269
Claude 'Buddy' Leach: 186,765
Edward 'Eddie' Mangin: 7,304
Richard McCoy: 1,515
Fred Robertson: 1,094
John M 'Doc' Simoneaux, Jr: 3,353
'Mike' Stagg: 1,684

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Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC