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An Early End to Louisiana Governor's Race?

Residents of Louisiana, who are facing tremendous challenges as they rebuild the school system in New Orleans, could find out next week who will be their new governor come January.

The state of Louisiana puts an interesting twist on its governor's election by putting all candidates, regardless of party, on the same ballot in an open primary contest, this year to be held on Oct. 20. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote then there's a run-off election, which would be held Nov. 17. This year, they may not be a run-off.

The latest polls, as reported in The Times-Picayune, show U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, with support that could top 50 percent, with his three major opponents trailing distantly behind. An Independant New Orleans businessman, a Democratic state senator, and the state's Democratic public service commissioner are fighting it out for second, according to the polls. Jindal may be able beat his opponents by such a wide margin that a run-off isn't necessary.

Whoever wins will replace Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Demorat who has endured sharp criticism for her response to Hurricane Katrina and decided not to seek re-election.

Jindal's education platform for Louisiana calls for expansion of pre-kindergarten, bonuses for successful teachers, and improvement in classroom discipline by increasing in-school suspensions and empowering teachers through a "Teachers' Bill of Rights."

His platform takes a hands-off approach to reform in the Recovery School District of New Orleans, and in fact suggests that the state can learn something from what's happening to education in New Orleans. For more about the school recovery effort, read Education Week's special reports here.


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