Sen. David Vitter Makes His 2015 Run for Governor Official

US Senator David Vitter (L) speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, September 30, 2013. Senator Vitter penned an amendment to nix subsidies for the health care of congressional staffers. 
National Journal
Elahe Izadi
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Elahe Izadi
Jan. 21, 2014, 5:57 a.m.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4667) }}

Re­pub­lic­an Sen. Dav­id Vit­ter of Louisi­ana of­fi­cially an­nounced Tues­day that he is run­ning for gov­ernor in 2015.

“After much pray­er, thought, and dis­cus­sion with Wendy and our chil­dren, I have de­cided to run for gov­ernor of Louisi­ana in 2015,” Vit­ter said in his video an­nounce­ment. “Let me first as­sure you that this de­cision will in no way lim­it the crit­ic­al work I’m do­ing today in the U.S. Sen­ate — rep­res­ent­ing you and your fam­ily will con­tin­ue to be my top pri­or­ity, but I be­lieve as our next gov­ernor I can have a big­ger im­pact ad­dress­ing the unique chal­lenges and prob­lems we face in Louisi­ana.”

Vit­ter, first elec­ted to the House in 1999 in a spe­cial elec­tion and then to the Sen­ate in 2004, would oth­er­wise be up for reelec­tion in 2016. In 2007, he was caught up in the “D.C. Madam” pros­ti­tu­tion scan­dal, but he went on to win reelec­tion in 2010.

Cur­rent Re­pub­lic­an Louisi­ana Gov. Bobby Jin­dal is term-lim­ited and has been floated as a pos­sible can­did­ate for the 2016 pres­id­en­tial race.

Vit­ter’s in­ten­tions to run for gov­ernor have been no secret, from Louisi­ana to the Sen­ate cham­ber, as his Obama­care-re­lated pro­pos­als have been viewed through a polit­ic­al lens. In re­cent months, he has blocked and delayed votes on un­re­lated bills in or­der to se­cure a vote on the so-called Vit­ter Amend­ment, which re­quires law­makers and their staff to pur­chase in­sur­ance on Obama­care ex­changes while not get­ting the sub­sidies they would nor­mally re­ceive for fed­er­al health in­sur­ance.

“He can keep push­ing this,” Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id said in Septem­ber 2013. “Maybe it’ll help him get elec­ted gov­ernor, which in my mind, wouldn’t be a bad deal, if you know what I mean.”

Such moves by Vit­ter haven’t en­deared him to his Sen­ate col­leagues, and aside from Obama­care-re­lated pro­pos­als, he’s re­mained mostly out of the spot­light, and he’s known for avoid­ing the press on Cap­it­ol Hill.

Vit­ter’s fo­cus on Obama­care and the pres­id­ent is un­sur­pris­ingly well re­ceived back home. Louisi­ana GOP con­sult­ant Roy Fletch­er said he is “play­ing to the out­side of Con­gress, which is smart.”

His of­fi­cial entry in­to the race comes more than a year be­fore Elec­tion Day. “The ques­tion be­comes, did Vit­ter clear the field? I think that’s what’s run­ning here, is that he’s try­ing to de­vel­op a scen­ario of in­ev­it­ab­il­ity,” Fletch­er said.

So far, the field is not a clear one. He will face Louisi­ana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and pos­sibly state Treas­urer John Kennedy in a primary. As for Demo­crats, state Rep. John Bel Ed­wards is run­ning, and New Or­leans May­or Mitch Landrieu is mulling a run.

Demo­crats in Louisi­ana are already try­ing to tie Vit­ter to Wash­ing­ton dys­func­tion. “Dav­id Vit­ter as gov­ernor would mean more of the shut­down-style polit­ics that Re­pub­lic­ans have per­fec­ted in D.C., and there has been no big­ger fail­ure in the U.S. Sen­ate than Dav­id Vit­ter,” state Demo­crat­ic Party Chair­wo­man Kar­en Carter Peterson said.

In the 2009-14 cycle, Vit­ter’s cam­paign com­mit­tee raised $11 mil­lion, and as of Septem­ber 2013 had $963,255 cash on hand. A su­per PAC that sup­ports Vit­ter re­portedly raised $1.5 mil­lion in 2013, with the founder set to ar­gue be­fore the state’s Board of Eth­ics next week against the state con­tri­bu­tion lim­its of $100,000.

If Vit­ter loses, he won’t have to va­cate his Sen­ate seat. But if elec­ted as gov­ernor, he will still have in­flu­ence in the Sen­ate. Long­time Vit­ter aide Joel Di­Grado is run­ning Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Bill Cas­sidy’s cam­paign against Demo­crat­ic Sen. Mary Landrieu, who is up for reelec­tion in 2014. And if there is an open seat in 2015, “The gov­ernor gets to choose the United States Sen­at­or, and you get a tri­fecta,” Fletch­er said. “That’s very, very power­ful.”

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