Louisiana's Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne may be considering a bid against Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, but he isn't taking steps towards turning those considerations into a reality, he told Hotline On Call in a phone interview on Thursday.
Dardenne has been mentioned as a potential contender for Landrieu's seat since he was included in an automated, public poll that showed him narrowly losing to Landrieu, but besting the field of possible Republican candidates. Dardenne told Roll Call last week that his inclusion in the survey had him "pondering" a bid, but he said Thursday that is as far as he's gotten -- he is not fundraising or polling, nor talking with consultants or his family about running. "I'm not having a whole lot of discussions with anybody," he said.
Dardenne denied rumors among Louisiana Republicans that he met with the National Republican Senatorial Committee last week, adding that his staff hasn't met with the group either. "I haven't talked to anyone in Washington except for you and [Roll Call's Joshua Miller]," he said.
The possibility of a Dardenne candidacy was bound to crop up, given the vacuum on the Republican side in a race the GOP wants to win badly. Rep. Bill Cassidy is strongly considering a bid and has taken steps to get into the race, hiring consultants and giving speeches throughout the state, but his unwillingness to commit to the race, even in February, has other Republicans eyeing the seat, including Rep. John Fleming, former Rep. Jeff Landry and former Gov. Buddy Roemer's son, Chas, who is president of the state's education board.
Dardenne called Cassidy, Fleming and Roemer all strong, viable contenders. Asked if he would run against one such strong GOP candidate, Dardenne said, "No, in all likelihood, I wouldn't." But he wouldn't rule out running against Cassidy, Fleming or Roemer, by name, adding: "I haven't said...that I'm absolutely not running. I'm not trying to be coy with you."
Pelican State Republicans think it's unlikely Dardenne would end up running against Cassidy in particular. The two are personally close, as both Dardenne and Cassidy's office have confirmed, and actually held the same seat in the state Senate.
Dardenne has been much more open about his interest in running for governor in 2015, however, when Gov. Bobby Jindal leaves office due to term limits -- and, potentially, a presidential campaign.
"(It's) no secret that I've talked about running for governor in 2015," Dardenne said, adding that his current efforts are focused on that race, rather than the Senate.
Dardenne said he raised nearly $850,000 last year to finance his political future and that he's had success in four bids for statewide office so far. "The poll [which was conducted statewide] certainly didn't discourage me in any way shape or form," he said.