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The Advocate - LFT Backs Campbell

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The Advocate - LFT Backs Campbell

Group: Jindal didn't respond to questionnaire

Advocate Capitol News Bureau

Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell garnered the endorsement of one of the largest teacher unions in the state Wednesday in his bid to become the next governor.

The Louisiana Federation of Teacher's leaders said they interviewed Campbell, state Sen. Walter Boasso and New Orleans businessman John Georges before deciding to back Campbell.

"What impressed us the most was, (Campbell's attitude of) ‘You know what, I'm willing to take the fight on,'" LFT President Steve Monaghan said, referring to Campbell's plan to eliminate the state income tax and replace it with a processing tax on foreign oil.

The front-runner in the Oct. 20 primary election, U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal, did not interview with the organization, he said.

Jindal also didn't return a questionnaire, despite three reminder letters from LFT, Monaghan said.

Jindal, meanwhile Wednesday, announced his education platform during a speech at Ouachita Junior High School in Monroe.

His plan calls for improving classroom discipline and for rewarding good teachers with merit bonuses.

Louisiana's other educators' union, the 20,000-member Louisiana Association of Educators, earlier endorsed both Campbell and Boasso, D-Arabi.

The Louisiana AFL-CIO, which has about 120,000 members, is scheduled to issue its endorsement in the race today, said Julie Cherry, the union's secretary-treasurer. Boasso and Campbell are scheduled to be interviewed today by AFL-CIO officials before the endorsement is announced, Cherry said.

The LFT — which represents 18,000 educators across the state — held a forum, conducted interviews and issued questionnaires to the leading candidates in the race.

Campbell, Boasso and Georges, who has no party affiliation, participated in the forum. Jindal did not.

Jindal did not respond to a request for comment on the LFT's endorsement process. His press secretary, Melissa Sellers, refused to explain why Jindal did not interview or fill out a questionnaire.

Instead, Sellers pointed to the "21-point detailed education policy plan geared toward attracting and retaining good qualified teachers" that Jindal announced in Monroe.

Campbell, a Bossier Parish Democrat, and Jindal, R-Kenner, are among 13 candidates vying to succeed Gov. Kathleen Blanco, who is not running for re-election.

Campbell resonated with the group's leaders because he is a "long-term fighter for the average working man," the LFT's Monaghan said.

Campbell also is the only leading candidate who taught school.

During a news conference on the steps of the State Capitol, he said he wants to open public schools at night for adults interesting in taking the high school equivalency exam.

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