Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal endorses Rob McKenna

SPOKANE — Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna on Wednesday, saying McKenna would be a great governor for the state.

McKenna, the state attorney general, is battling Democrat Jay Inslee to succeed Gov. Chris Gregoire.

At a joint appearance in Spokane, Jindal praised McKenna’s views on education policy, taxes and the importance of private sector jobs.

“Inslee wants to grow jobs in the public sector,” Jindal said.

Jindal, a rising GOP star, praised efforts to require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to raise taxes, saying such a system had worked well in Louisiana.

But Jindal spent most of the brief appearance talking about education. He praised McKenna’s support for school reforms such as teacher accountability, workforce training and public charter schools.

“Rob understands this is absolutely critical,” Jindal said. “Voters that want change need to vote for Rob.”

The two disagree on one key reform. Jindal supports Louisiana’s system of school vouchers. McKenna does not think vouchers would work in Washington.

Democrats were quick to criticize McKenna, saying he wanted to take money from public education and move it into private schools

“While McKenna makes promises he knows he can’t keep on education funding, he is drawing inspiration from a Louisiana program that funds private schools on the taxpayer’s dime,” Democrats said in a statement. “These sorts of `reforms’ would simply leave more students without access to a quality education.”

Jindal planned to attend a private fundraiser in Spokane after endorsing McKenna.

McKenna also disputed suggestions that he had been unclear in his response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision on health care reform.

McKenna had joined other GOP attorneys general in the federal health care lawsuit more than a year ago over the strong objections of Gregoire and Democratic lawmakers.

McKenna has called the court’s decision a victory in one way because the mandate was called a tax. He said allowing the mandate under the Commerce Clause would have dramatically expanded the power of Congress to regulate what people can do, but he expressed concern about whether there were limits to how Congress could force people to take action by punishing them with taxes.

McKenna said he didn’t want Congress to repeal the whole law and that the individual mandate should stay for now. He wants lawmakers to focus on identifying changes to some aspect of the measure while keeping those that are popular.

“I have been consistent,” he said.

But Inslee has attacking McKenna’s position as a “flip flop.”

“He had two years to think about the consequences of his effort to overturn health care reform. Washington is facing serious challenges, our state deserves a governor who is honest, prepared and ready,” Jaime Smith, Inslee’s press secretary, said in a statement.

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