Thursday, August 23, 2007

Consider the source: Verne Kennedy. Uh, yeah.

Another ego on parade.


Candidate studies changing parties

Advocate Capitol News Bureau
Published: Aug 23, 2007

Republican businessman John Georges of New Orleans said he is considering switching to independent or even Democrat in his campaign for the Governor’s Mansion.

The possible switch is based on the results of a poll released Wednesday that Georges’ funded. It shows him at 3 percent of the vote as a Republican but jumping to 8 percent as an independent candidate.

Frontrunner U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-Kenner, is at 54 percent, according to George’s poll, even with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin in the race.

Nagin has said he is considering running for governor.

One question in the survey asked voters to list their choices and identified Georges as a Republican. The question was: “If the election for governor were held today and you had to make a choice, which candidate would you favor?”

The choice included Jindal, Georges, Nagin, Sen. Walter Boasso, D-Arabi and Democrat Foster Campbell of Bossier Parish, a member of the Public Service Commission.

The results were Jindal, 54 percent; Boasso, 14 percent; Nagin, 6 percent; Georges, 3 percent; Campbell, 3 percent and undecided, 19 percent.

Jindal dips to 50 percent with Georges as an independent, according to the Verne Kennedy-conducted Market Research Insight poll.

“I think I’m within striking distance for second place,” Georges said Wednesday, noting his goal of a run-off with Jindal.

“It takes a while for people to come off their guy,” Georges said, referring to Jindal. “The people only knew one guy for six months.”

The poll asked voters the same question but listed Georges as an independent candidate. The results were Jindal, 50 percent; Boasso, 11 percent; Georges, 8 percent; Nagin, 7 percent; Campbell, 3 percent and undecided, 21 percent.

Georges said he will decide on his party affiliation by qualifying on Sept. 4.

Georges said his political views are not that far from former U.S. Sen. John Breaux, adding the line between Republican and Democrat is thin.

Georges said two weeks of television advertisements have skyrocketed him to 56 percent name recognition.

That compares to 97 percent for Jindal and 76 percent for Boasso, who is the Democratic frontrunner, according to the poll of 600 registered and likely voters statewide.

The poll has a 4 percent margin for error and questions were asked Aug. 13-15, Kennedy said.

Pearson Cross, a political scientist at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, said Georges has reason to be encouraged by the poll and his improving name recognition. It still may take a “great stumble or gaffe” for Jindal to be seriously challenged, Cross said.

“There’s a group of very short people desperately trying to climb up Jindal’s leg and trip him if necessary,” Cross said.

Although Nagin would hurt the other Democrats more, Cross said, Nagin could do just enough to force Jindal under 50 percent and into a runoff.

Nagin has the best chance to be in a runoff with Jindal because of the black vote Nagin may attract, Cross said.

Georges, who was a business partner with Nagin, said he was discouraging the New Orleans mayor from entering the race.

Now, Georges said he sees it as an “opportunity” to make the runoff if Georges keeps improving. Georges said he paid Verne Kennedy of Pensacola, Fla. to conduct the poll.

Kennedy said Wednesday the poll shows Georges in a strong position to make a runoff because he is making fast gains.

Also, Georges has the most support at 24 percent when voters were asked to list their second favorite candidate, he said.

Kennedy’s poll still has Boasso in second place behind Jindal though, whether Georges is a Republican or independent.

“The concern is what’s going to happen on election day (Oct. 20),” Kennedy said, “not what’s going to happen today.”

Although Jindal is seen as the “unofficial incumbent,” Kennedy said, 58 percent of those polled are undecided or favor another candidate.

Timmy Teepell, Jindal’s campaign manager, said there are plenty of polls and that Jindal actually made gains from Kennedy’s last poll.

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