Bobby Jindal

Piyush "Bobby" Jindal (born June 10, 1971) is the current Republican governor of the U.S. state of Louisiana. Prior to his election as governor, he was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Louisiana's 1st congressional district, to which he was elected in 2004 to succeed current U.S. Senator David Vitter. Jindal was re-elected to Congress in the 2006 election with 88 percent of the vote.

On October 20, 2007, Jindal was elected governor of Louisiana, winning a four-way race with 54% of the vote. At age 36, Jindal became the youngest current governor in the United States. He also became the first non-white to serve as governor of Louisiana since Reconstruction, and the first elected Indian American governor in U.S. history.

Personal life

Piyush Jindal was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to recently arrived Punjabi Indian immigrants Amar and Raj Jindal, who were attending graduate school His father left India and his ancestral family village of Khanpura in 1970. His mother, Raj Jindal, is an information technology director for the Louisiana Department of Labor. According to family lore, Jindal adopted the name "Bobby" from the character Bobby Brady after watching The Brady Bunch television series at age four. He has been known by that name ever since—as a civil servant, politician, student, and writer—though legally his name remains Piyush Jindal.

Jindal was a Hindu, but converted to Catholicism in high school. He has also offered his religious testimony before Baptist and Pentecostal congregations. He attended public school at Baton Rouge Magnet High School and graduated when he was 17. Following high school, Jindal enrolled, and eventually graduated from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, with honors in biology and public policy where he was a member of the Society of the Pacifica House. Although he had thought of a career in medicine or law and was accepted by Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School, he chose to pursue a political career. He received a master's degree in political science from New College, Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar.

After Oxford, he joined McKinsey & Company, a consulting firm, where he advised Fortune 500 companies.

In 1996 Jindal married Supriya Jolly (born 1972). The couple has three children: Selia Elizabeth, Shaan Robert, and Slade Ryan. On August 15, 2006, Bobby Jindal assisted in delivering his third child when his wife awoke from sleep in labor.

Government service

In 1995 Republican U.S. Representative Jim McCrery (for whom Jindal had once worked as a summer intern) introduced Jindal to Republican Governor Mike Foster In 1996 Foster appointed Jindal to be secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, an agency which then represented about 40 percent of the state budget. During his tenure as secretary, Louisiana's Medicaid program went from bankruptcy with a $400 million deficit into three years of surpluses totaling $220 million. Jindal was criticized during the 2007 campaign by the Louisiana AFL-CIO for having closed some local clinics to balance the budget. In 1998 Jindal was appointed executive director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare, a 17-member panel charged with devising plans to reform Medicare.

In 1999, at the request of the Louisiana Governor's Office and the Louisiana State Legislature, Jindal volunteered his time to study how Louisiana might use its $4.4 billion tobacco settlement. In that same year Jindal was appointed to become the youngest-ever president of the University of Louisiana System. In March 2001 he was nominated by President George W. Bush to be Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation. He was later unanimously confirmed by a bipartisan vote of the United States Senate and began serving on July 9, 2001. In that position, he served as the principal policy advisor to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. He resigned from that post on February 21, 2003, to return to Louisiana and run for governor.

2003 campaign for Governor

Jindal came to national prominence during the 2003 election for Louisiana governor.

In what Louisianans call an "open primary" (but which is technically a jungle primary), Jindal finished first with 33 percent of the vote. He received endorsements from the largest paper in Louisiana, the New Orleans Times-Picayune; the newly-elected Democratic mayor of New Orleans, C. Ray Nagin; and the outgoing Republican governor, Mike Foster. In the second balloting, Jindal faced the outgoing lieutenant governor, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Lafayette, a Democrat. Despite winning in Blanco's hometown, he lost many normally conservative parishes in north Louisiana, and Blanco prevailed with 52 percent of the popular vote.

Political analysts have speculated on myriad explanations for his loss. Some have blamed Jindal for his refusal to answer questions about his record brought up in several advertisements, which the Jindal Campaign called "negative attack ads"; others note that a significant number of conservative Louisianans remain more comfortable voting for a Democrat, especially a conservative one, than for a Republican. Still others have mentioned the race factor, arguing that some voters were uncomfortable voting for a non-white candidate. Despite his losing the election in 2003, the run for governor made Jindal a well-known figure on the state's political scene.

Congressman of the first district

A few weeks after the 2003 gubernatorial runoff, Jindal decided to run for Louisiana's 1st congressional district. The incumbent, David Vitter, was running for the Senate seat being vacated by John Breaux. Jindal moved to Kenner, to run for the congressional seat. The Louisiana Republican Party endorsed him in the primary despite the fact that Mike Rogers, also a Republican, was running for the same seat. The 1st District has been in Republican hands since a 1977 special election and is widely considered to be the most conservative district in Louisiana. Although Democrats have a plurality in voter registration, the district tends to vote for socially conservative candidates. Jindal also had an advantage because his campaign was able to raise over $1 million very early in the campaign, making it harder for other candidates to effectively raise funds to oppose him. He won the 2004 Election with 78 percent of the vote.

He was elected freshman class president and was appointed to the House Committee on Homeland Security, the House Committee on Resources, and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. He was made vice-chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Prevention of Nuclear and Biological Attacks.

On May 3, 2008 a special election was held to determine Jindal's replacement. Steve Scalise, a state legislator, was elected with 75 percent of the vote over University of New Orleans professor Dr. Gilda Reed

Governor of Louisiana

On January 22, 2007, Jindal announced his candidacy for governor.

Polling data showed him with an early lead in the race, and he remained the favorite throughout the campaign. He defeated eleven opponents in the jungle primary held on October 20, including two prominent Democrats, State Senator Walter Boasso of Chalmette and Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell of Bossier City, and an independent, New Orleans businessman John Georges.

Jindal finished with 699,672 votes (54 percent). Boasso ran second with 226,364 votes (17 percent). Georges finished with 186,800 (14 percent), and Campbell, who is also a former state senator, ran fourth with 161,425 (12 percent). The remaining candidates collectively polled three percent of the vote. Jindal polled pluralities or majorities in 60 of the state's 64 parishes (equivalent to counties in other states). He lost narrowly to Georges in Orleans Parish, to Boasso in St. Bernard Parish (which Boasso represented the in Legislature), and in the two neighboring north Louisiana parishes of Red River and Bienville located south of Shreveport, both of which are historically Democratic and supported Campbell. In the 2003 contest with Blanco, Jindal had lost most of the northern parishes.

Jindal assumed the position of governor when he took the oath of office on January 14, 2008. At 36, he became the youngest sitting governor in the United States. He is also Louisiana's first non-white governor since P. B. S. Pinchback served for 35 days during Reconstruction.

In a salute to the 2007 LSU Tigers football national championship team during his January 14, 2008 inauguration speech, Jindal stated in part "...They revere our athletes. Go Tigers....

Legislative pay raise controversy

On June 27, 2008, Louisiana's Secretary of State confirmed that a recall petition had been filed against Governor Jindal. Ryan and Kourtney Fournier filed the petition in response to Jindal's refusal to veto a bill that would more than double the current state legislative pay. The petitioners had 180 days to collect the signatures of over 900,000 registered voters to force a recall election on the ballot. If accomplished, a simple majority would have been needed to remove the Governor. During his campaign for Governor, Jindal had pledged to prevent legislative pay raises that would take effect during the current term. Jindal responded by saying that he is opposed to the pay increase but that he had pledged to let the legislature govern themselves.

On June 30, 2008, Governor Jindal reversed his earlier position by vetoing the pay raise legislation, stating that he made a mistake by staying out of the pay raise issue. In response, the petitioners dropped their recall effort.

Speculation over vice presidential nomination

On February 8, 2008, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh mentioned on his syndicated show that Jindal could be a possible choice for the Republican vice presidential nomination in 2008. He said that Jindal might be perceived as an asset to McCain's campaign because he has support in the conservative base of the Republican Party and his youth offsets Sen. McCain's age. If McCain were to win the presidency, he would be the oldest president ever inaugurated to a first term. Heightening the speculation, McCain invited Jindal, Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida, Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and McCain's former rivals Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee to meet with at McCain's home in Arizona on Friday, May 23, 2008, according to a Republican familiar with the decision; Romney, Huckabee, and Pawlenty, all of whom were already well acquainted with McCain, declined because of prior commitments. The meeting may have served a different purpose, such as consideration of Jindal for the opportunity to speak at the 2008 Republican National Convention, in a similar fashion to Barack Obama at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, cementing a place for him in the party and opening the gate for a future run for the presidency. Speculation was fueled by simultaneous July 21, 2008, reports that Sen. McCain was making a sudden visit to Louisiana to again meet with Gov. Jindal and that Sen. McCain was readying to name his running mate within a week. However, on July 23, 2008, Jindal said he would not be the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008. Jindal added that he "never talked to the senator [McCain] about the vice presidency or his thoughts on selecting the vice president." Ultimately, on Friday, August 29, 2008, McCain chose Alaska's governor, Sarah Palin, as his running mate.

Positions on selected social and political issues

Bobby Jindal has a 100% pro-life voting record according to the National Right to Life Committee. He opposes abortion without exception. He does not condemn medical procedures meant to save the life of a pregnant woman that would indirectly cause the termination of the pregnancy. Jindal also supports the use of emergency contraception in the case of rape. He opposes embryonic stem cell research and voted against increasing federal funding to expand embryonic stem cell lines.

As a private citizen, Jindal voted for the "Stelly Tax plan", a referendum named for former state Representative Vic Stelly of Lake Charles, which swapped some sales taxes for higher income taxes. Whether or not the "Stelly Plan" is giving the desired results is still hotly debated statewide. Early Republican challenger Steve Scalise challenged Jindal on his vote for this tax plan before Scalise dropped out of the congressional race in 2004. As Governor, Jindal initially opposed reforms to the Stelly plan that would result in over $300 million in tax cuts. He later agreed to the tax cut after the legislature appeared headed to eliminating the entire personal income tax which Jindal also opposed. Talk show host Moon Griffon subsequently refused to air radio ads paid for by the organization Believe in Louisiana crediting Jindal for Stelly reforms saying "Now, they are taking credit for the biggest income tax cut in the history of Louisiana and I felt like it was a lie. To be real blunt, very misleading and it was an outright lie because he had fought hard against it," .

Jindal voted yes on making the PATRIOT Act permanent, voted in favor of the 2006 Military Commissions Act, supported a constitutional amendment banning flag burning, and voted against the Real ID Act of 2005. Jindal has an A rating from Gun Owners of America.

He was a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee. In 2006, Jindal voted with the Republican Caucus 97 percent of the time during the 109th Congress.

Jindal also supports co-payments in Medicaid.

In 2006, Jindal sponsored the Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act (H.R. 4761), a bill to eliminate the moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling over the U.S. outer continental shelf, which prompted the watchdog group Republicans for Environmental Protection to issue him an environmental harm demerit. Jindal's 2006 rating from that organization was -4, among the lowest in Congress. The nonpartisan League of Conservation Voters also censured Jindal for securing passage of H.R. 4761 in the House of Representatives; the group rated his environmental performance that year at seven percent, citing anti-environment votes on 11 out of 12 critical issues. Jindal's lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters is seven percent. Despite claims that Jindal's bill was successful, H.R. 4761 was replaced by S 3711 (known as the Domenici-Landrieu Fair Share Plan). The original Senate version was passed by both houses of Congress and signed by President Bush.

In 2007 Jindal led the Louisiana delegation in Congressional earmark funding. His earmark funding was 14th among all Congressmen in 2007 according to the organization Taxpayers for Common Sense]. As Governor in 2008, Jindal used his line item to veto to strike $16 million in earmarks from the state budget while allowing $30 million in legislator added spending.

Jindal supports the teaching of intelligent design in public schools.

On June 25, 2008, Jindal signed the "Sex Offender Chemical Castration Bill", authorizing the chemical castration of those convicted of certain sex offenses.


A list of Jindal's published writings up to 2001 can be found in the hearing report for his 2001 U.S. Senate confirmation. They include newspaper columns, law review articles, and an article co-authored for the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Jindal's pre-2001 writings include several articles in the New Oxford Review, one of which dealt with the subject of exorcism. In that 1994 article, Jindal described witnessing a friend seemingly being possessed by a demon. However, at the end of the article he questioned whether he actually witnessed spiritual warfare.

Electoral history

Governor of Louisiana, 2003

Threshold > 50%

First Ballot, October 4, 2003

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Bobby Jindal Republican 443,389 (33%) Runoff
Kathleen Blanco Democratic 250,136 (18%) Runoff
Richard Ieyoub Democratic 223,513 (16%) Defeated
Claude "Buddy" Leach Democratic 187,872 (14%) Defeated
Others n.a. 257,614 (19%) Defeated

Second Ballot, November 15, 2003

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Kathleen Blanco Democratic 731,358 (52%) Elected
Bobby Jindal Republican 676,484 (48%) Defeated

U. S. Representative, 1st Congressional District, 2004

Threshold > 50%

First Ballot, November 2, 2004

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Bobby Jindal Republican 225,708 (78%) Elected
Roy Armstrong Democratic 19,266 (7%) Defeated
Others n.a. 42,923 (15%) Defeated

U. S. Representative, 1st Congressional District, 2006

Threshold > 50%

First Ballot, November 7, 2006

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Bobby Jindal Republican 130,508 (88%) Elected
David Gereighty Democratic 10,919 (7%) Defeated
Others n.a. 6,701 (5%) Defeated

Governor of Louisiana, 2007

Threshold > 50%

First Ballot, October 20, 2007

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Bobby Jindal Republican 699,672 (54%) Elected
Walter Boasso Democratic 226,364 (17%) Defeated
John Georges Independent 186,800 (14%) Defeated
Foster Campbell Democratic 161,425 (12%) Defeated
Others n.a. 23,682 (3%) Defeated


External links


Media coverage

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