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2003 Louisiana gubernatorial election

← 1999 October 4 and
November 15, 2003
2007 →
Bobby Jindal at Department of Health and Human Services (cropped).jpg
Nominee Kathleen Blanco Bobby Jindal
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 731,358 676,484
Percentage 52.0% 48.0%

2003 Louisiana gubernatorial runoff election results map by parish.svg
Parish results
Blanco:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%
Jindal:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%

Governor before election

Mike Foster

Elected Governor

Kathleen Blanco

The 2003 Louisiana gubernatorial election was held on November 15, 2003 to elect the Governor of Louisiana. Incumbent Republican Governor Mike Foster was not eligible to run for re-election to a third term because of term limits established by the Louisiana Constitution.

As of 2021, this is the most recent Louisiana gubernatorial election in which the winner of the first round did not win the runoff.


Elections in Louisiana—with the exception of U.S. presidential elections—follow a variation of the open primary system called the jungle primary. Candidates of any and all parties are listed on one ballot; voters need not limit themselves to the candidates of one party. Unless one candidate takes more than 50 percent of the vote in the first round, a run-off election is then held between the top two candidates, who may in fact be members of the same party. In this election, the first round of voting was held on October 4, 2003, and the runoff was held on November 15, 2003.





Departing Governor Foster was disqualified from succeeding himself for a third term by Louisiana's constitution, so the 2003 race was perceived as wide open and saw a large number of candidates enter the campaign. The primary phase of the campaign was characterized by the large number of strong Democratic contenders. Ieyoub was seen as one of the strongest Democratic candidates throughout the campaign, and only narrowly lost a slot in the runoff to Blanco, who had a strong base of support in the Acadian parishes and among women voters. The efforts of Leach to appeal to the same base as Ieyoub led them to split the Democratic vote and to come in third and fourth.

The leading Republican candidate, by contrast, was chosen fairly early on. Jindal took a commanding lead among Republican supporters early in the campaign, leaving Hunt Downer far behind.

In the runoff, Jindal received endorsements from the New Orleans Times-Picayune (the largest paper in Louisiana), New Orleans Mayor Nagin (who had supported Ewing in the primary but declined to endorse Blanco in the runoff), and outgoing Republican Governor Mike Foster. Some political analysts believe that his narrow loss was partly due to racism.[citation needed] Other political analysts have blamed Jindal for his refusal to answer questions about his record brought up in several ads, which the Jindal campaign called "negative attack ads", the most effective of which denounced his health care plan. Still others note that a significant number of conservative Louisianans remained more comfortable voting for a conservative Democrat than for a Republican.[citation needed] The runoff between Bobby Jindal and Kathleen Blanco brought two 'firsts' for Louisiana political history. If elected, Jindal would have been the United States' first Indian-American governor (which he did 4 years later). The victorious Blanco became Louisiana's first woman governor. She was also the second woman to have been lieutenant governor.


Parishes won by Gubernatorial Candidates in the October 4, 2003 Election. .mw-parser-output .legend{page-break-inside:avoid;break-inside:avoid-column}.mw-parser-output .legend-color{display:inline-block;min-width:1.25em;height:1.25em;line-height:1.25;margin:1px 0;text-align:center;border:1px solid black;background-color:transparent;color:black}.mw-parser-output .legend-text{}  Bobby Jindal (28)   Randy Ewing (11)   Richard leyoub (11)   Kathleen Blanco (7)   Claude "Buddy" Leach (5)   Hunt Downer (2)
Parishes won by Gubernatorial Candidates in the October 4, 2003 Election.
  Bobby Jindal (28)
  Randy Ewing (11)
  Richard leyoub (11)
  Kathleen Blanco (7)
  Claude "Buddy" Leach (5)
  Hunt Downer (2)
Parishes won by Gubernatorial Candidates in the November 15, 2003 Runoff.   Kathleen Blanco (52)   Bobby Jindal (12)
Parishes won by Gubernatorial Candidates in the November 15, 2003 Runoff.
  Kathleen Blanco (52)
  Bobby Jindal (12)

First voting round, October 4

Louisiana gubernatorial election jungle primary, 2003
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Bobby Jindal 443,389 32.54
Democratic Kathleen Blanco 250,136 18.36
Democratic Richard Ieyoub 223,513 16.4
Democratic Claude "Buddy" Leach 187,872 13.79
Democratic Randy Ewing 123,936 9.10
Republican Hunt Downer 84,718 6.22
Democratic J. E. Jumonville, Jr. 13,410 1.25
Republican Alan Allgood 7,866 0.58
Democratic Patrick Henry "Dat" Barthel 7,338 0.54
Independent Patrick "Live Wire" Landry 7,195 0.53
Independent Eddie Mangin 6,745 0.50
Independent J. D. "Boudreaux" Estilette 6,439 0.47
Independent John M. "Doc" Simoneaux, Jr. 3,280 0.24
Independent Quentin R. Brown, Jr. 2,414 0.18
Democratic Mike Stagg 1,667 0.12
Democratic Richard McCoy 1,513 0.11
Democratic Fred Robertson 1,093 0.08
Total votes 1,362,524 100.00

Runoff, November 15

The race was close, with Blanco prevailing by almost 4%. Blanco won a huge majority of Louisiana's parishes, however, Jindal was able to keep Blanco's margin of victory in the single digits with a strong performance in Jefferson Parish and St. Tammany Parish, plus a narrow win in East Baton Rouge Parish. It was ultimately Orleans Parish home of New Orleans that insured a Blanco victory, though her 68.3% victory here was much smaller than Al Gore's 76% in the 2000 presidential election. This was the closest gubernatorial election since 1979, and there would not be another close gubernatorial race in Louisiana until 2019.

Louisiana gubernatorial election runoff, 2003
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Kathleen Blanco 731,358 51.95%
Republican Bobby Jindal 676,484 48.05%
Total votes 1,407,842 100.00%
Democratic gain from Republican
Preceded by
1999 gubernatorial election
Louisiana gubernatorial elections Succeeded by
2007 gubernatorial election