Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: email@example.com
Baton Rouge lawyer Dan Claitor beat businessman and fellow Republican Lee Domingue -- the candidate with Gov. Bobby Jindal's backing -- to win the state Senate District 16 seat in Saturday's special election.
Claitor garnered 11,713 or 66 percent of the vote to Domingue's 6,114 or 34 percent, based on complete but unofficial election returns.
Domingue far out-raised and outspent Claitor in the election to fill a vacancy created when Republican Bill Cassidy was elected to the U.S. Congress.
This might sound like a fairly significant rebuke for Jindal. A supposedly popular governor can't persuade his own party's voters to give his preferred candidate more than 34% of the vote?
But, the real problem wasn't Jindal. It was Domingue. During the campaign, major questions about his business surfaced. By election day, fairly or unfairly, he was damaged goods.
Of course, that only raises the question of whether Jindal erred in endorsing Domingue. The Times-Picayune is pointedly raising that very question:
The landslide loss has left political observers questioning the length of the governor's political coattails, and wondering why Jindal's first endorsement in a legislative race was for a flawed candidate whose campaign was marred by allegations of questionable business practices and the revelation that he had skipped nine of 10 elections before seeking office.
Elliott Stonecipher, a Shreveport demographer and longtime observer of state politics, said the race stands alone among the legislative races he's seen for the amount of money and political capital expended in a losing cause.
"Everything that could go wrong went wrong, " Stonecipher said. "But almost all of it was discernible from the beginning."
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