Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, seen as a rising star in the Republican Party, declared victory Saturday in his bid for re-election over nine challengers.
"You've chosen to give me another four years as your governor," he told supporters at his Baton Rouge campaign headquarters less than an hour after polls closed. "We've got a lot more work to do over these next four years."
Early returns showed Jindal with 68 percent of the vote, with 50 percent of precincts reporting.
Jindal, whose vote count would allow him to bypass a November runoff, has been viewed as a potential vice presidential contender. But he has said he would serve out his term as governor if re-elected.
"I will use every day, every hour of these next four years to make Louisiana the best it can be," he said Saturday.
Once seen as a possible presidential contender himself, Jindal has since endorsed Texas Governor Rick Perry for the Republican nomination.
"Jindal doesn't aim low," said Bernie Pinsonat, a Baton Rouge political analyst and pollster. "I don't think anybody in Louisiana thinks that Bobby Jindal doesn't have ambitions to be president," he said.
Pinsonat said the key to what Jindal did next was the 2012 presidential election. "If (Democrat) Barack Obama is re-elected, Jindal will throw himself 100 percent into running for president in 2016," Pinsonat said.
The possibility that Jindal, 40, will not serve out his full second term contributed to a hotly contested race for Louisiana's lieutenant governor seat.
Current Secretary of State Jay Dardenne squared off with Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser in that race. Early results showed Dardenne leading with more than 53 percent of the vote.
Louisiana's open primary system pits candidates of all parties against one another on one ballot. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the highest contenders meet in a runoff election.
It was Jindal's third race for governor. He lost in 2003 to Democrat Kathleen Blanco, who won a runoff with 51 percent of the vote. In 2007, he beat 12 other candidates and won 54 percent of the vote without a runoff. (Editing by Cynthia Johnston)
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