Random observations on each candidate's performance:
No surprises on the Bobby Jindal front. He never strayed far from his central platform plank of ethics reform and talking point of directing voters to his Web site to see his policy plans. Still, after watching his performance, it hammered home why his campaign has avoided televised debates. Jindal cannot shed his overcaffeinated policy wonk speaking style, cramming a gazillion statistics, studies and anecdotes into every breathless one-minute answer. That was never more apparent than in the lightning round of questioning, as Jindal was incapable of providing simple yes or no answers. He also might have created an opening for opponents with his qualified endorsement of teaching intelligent design in Louisiana classrooms.
Foster Campbell repeatedly talked up his oil and gas processing tax, inevitably circling back to its promised revenue as the baseline solution for coastal reform, education reform, etc. So there's no question where he stands, but that's a double-edged sword that also portrays him as a one-trick pony. Comedy is not his forte; his multiple attempts at humor fell flat.
Walter Boasso gave the night's most puzzling performance. With all his big-guy swagger and latest round of hard-hitting ads against Jindal, he was so subdued you wonder if he took a sedative prior to the debate. That effect was compounded by too many answers short on specifics. He uttered what should have been the strongest answer of the night when asked why he switched parties. "My party left me in the water for eight days after Hurricane Katrina. My party lied to me. President Bush stood in Jackson Square and promised to rebuild. I have 120,000 reasons to be a Democrat today," he said, referring to the residents of his hard-hit Senate district. But he said it somewhat flatly; where's the fire in his belly?
If forced to pick a winner for the debate, I'd give John Georges the nod. (This week's cover profile of Georges is the final installment of The Independent Weekly's four-part series on the major gubernatorial candidates.) He was hoarse and looked a bit over-rehearsed at times, but he gave the most specific answers; drew a sharp contrast between himself and the other candidates on race relations by repeatedly pointing out that he was the only candidate to go to Jena; and took a jab at Jindal when he used his business experience to note that he's traveled to every parish in the state: "Unlike the congressman who hasn't created one job his entire life, I have created many jobs," Georges said.
That statement appeared to rattle the normally unflappable Jindal campaign; in a post-debate "Setting the Record Straight" press release, the campaign referred to Georges' assertion as myth and countered it with this fact: "Bobby Jindal has a detailed 21-point plan to grow jobs in Louisiana."
Pundits across the state agree on one point: Jindal's opponents were unexpectedly timid and blew their first opportunity to test him. Their tiptoeing around the frontrunner was so cautious that Boasso, Campbell and Georges inexplicably never referred to Jindal by name, only calling him "the congressman."
Two more debates between the four candidates are scheduled ' 7 p.m. Oct. 4 at LSU-Shreveport and a WAFB/WWL televised debate at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 in New Orleans ' but those debates won't be televised statewide.
Boasso, Campbell and Georges are all hoping for a runoff, but with less than three weeks until the election, Jindal remains in the catbird's seat. And unless his challengers start making more passionate, forceful distinctions between their platforms and Jindal's, we'll know who Louisiana's next governor will be on Oct. 20.
Republicans are running strong races against endangered Democratic incumbents in states such as North Carolina, Colorado, Arkansas, Louisiana and Alaska. Republicans are also looking to replace retiring Democrats in Iowa and West Virginia with a GOP lawmaker.
Republican congressman Vance McAllister is trying to make up to Louisiana voters for getting too close to a married former employee.
You may not like all of “it,” but U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, unlike many of her colleagues, isn't sitting around twiddling her thumbs in Congress.
Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro says he "can't wait" to play against Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The heat keeps rising for Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal as a new slate of corruption allegations surfaced this week.
If opposing defenses sell out to stop the Packers' passing game, they risk being gashed by powerful running back Eddie Lacy, a New Orleans-area native.
At the horn the officiating crew trotted to the tunnel and left security personnel to clean up after them.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Sign "ninjas" cleaning up clutter; NYC doctor positive for Ebola; Ferguson grand jury decision nears; and more national and international news for Friday, October 24, 2014.
We can safely assume incumbent Chief K.P. Gibson isn’t too worried about this challenger.
Nationally, Republicans must gain six seats to win Senate control. The most competitive races, many in states where Obama lost in 2012, remain too close to call.
The Baton Rouge Republican has repeatedly battled a perception within his own party that he perhaps wasn't the best choice to carry the GOP banner.
Even if Jimmy Graham's production dips while the star tight end recovers from a shoulder injury, it looks like Drew Brees won't have much trouble finding other targets.
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."