Governor’s race goes religious

BATON ROUGE – A Louisiana Democratic Party ad accusing Republican candidate for governor Bobby Jindal of calling Protestants “scandalous, depraved, selfish and heretical” has prompted a firestorm of criticism.Political watchers questioned whether the ad went too far and whether it accurately reflects Jindal’s writings on Catholicism. Republicans and the head of a national Catholic organization called the ad a smear campaign.

Democrats say the 30-second TV spot running in heavily Protestant central and north Louisiana simply explains Jindal’s beliefs with his own words, using portions of Jindal’s religious writings through the 1990s, before he was an elected official. State Democratic Party officials said they won’t end the TV ad, and neither of the major Democratic candidates, state Sen. Walter Boasso and Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, called for the ad to be removed from the air.

A north Louisiana political analyst said it likely wouldn’t peel voter support away from Jindal. “Democrats have every right to hold up his voting record. I think that is completely legitimate.

But when you get into this particular issue, I don’t know that it works to do anything but turn people off,” said John Sutherlin, a political science professor at the University of Louisiana-Monroe.

A spokeswoman for the Democratic Party said the ad is slated to run for about a week. It features a woman on-screen, saying Jindal doesn’t respect other people’s religion and directs viewers to a Web site with links to several articles Jindal wrote on Catholicism.