Shortly after Governor- elect Jindal won the 2007 gubernatorial race, concerns arose about the possibility of “hold overs” from the Blanco administration. Some worried that Mike Olivier, Governor Blanco’s economic development secretary, might be allowed to stay in the Jindal administration. Olivier had publicly expressed an interest in retaining his position.
“I voted for change, not to keep the same people from the Blanco administration” was the refrain voiced by the Jindal supporters that I know. But in Olivier’s case, Mr. Jindal did the right (and smart) thing by sending him on his way.
After Olivier was kicked to the curb, at least one holdover from the Blanco and Foster administrations continued to worry some of Jindal’s supporters: LRA chief Andy Kopplin. Many have feared that Jindal would retain him as a high- level player in his administration.
After all, that’s what Jindal’s predocessor Kathleen Blanco did. I remember some of Blanco’s former supporters being frustrated at her for keeping Kopplin and others from the Foster administration. Some people have even told me that they voted for Blanco in ’03 specifically to see former Governor Mike Fosters’ people gone, and Andy Kopplin was one of the bigger fish they wanted to see fried.
But Blanco kept him for her entire term. .
When Jindal won the governor’s race in ’07, Jindal’s past connections to Kopplin worried some people; rumors swirled that Jindal would allow Kopplin to become a major player in his administration, which undercut his message of reform.
But alas, it did not come to pass.
Andy Kopplin has officially resigned as head of the Louisiana Recovery authority. Of course the public is told that his resignation is strictly voluntary. But political insiders know the truth: Jindal’s people have seen Kopplin as a liability. His departure comes as welcome news to many people.
Sending Kopplin on his way is a smart move for the Jindal. Some of Jindal’s biggest supporters (many of them influential in politics) have told me that the quickest way for Jindal to lose their support would be to keep Andy Kopplin around.
Apparently, Mr. Jindal has realized that Kopplin is a liability, and is looking into replacing him.
Andy’s probably a great guy and will go on to do good things in the private sector. But as a professional government bureaucrat, he will not be missed.
Good move, Mr. Jindal.
We hope to see many more like it in the coming years.