Vitter endorses Jindal, despite silence in ’10 race

U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., announced Wednesday that he is backing Gov. Bobby Jindal’s re-election bid despite the governor’s silence last year on Vitter’s re-election campaign.

“I am strongly endorsing Bobby Jindal for Governor. I hope you will join with me in doing everything we can to ensure a particularly strong victory for Bobby and our state,” Vitter wrote to supporters in an email.

Vitter characterized the Republican governor as honest and competent. He coupled his endorsement with a request for money to help Jindal become as bold as possible.

The governor declined to publicly back Vitter in his race last year against then-U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville, and other challengers. Jindal backed candidates in past federal races.

At the time, Vitter faced embarrassing questions on the campaign trail about the “serious sin” to which he admitted in 2007 after his phone number showed up on the client list of a high-priced Washington prostitution ring.

He also had to contend with questions about an aide who was arrested for allegedly attacking his girlfriend.

Vitter won re-election without the governor’s support. He did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Vitter’s endorsement comes months ahead of the Oct. 22 primary. So far, Jindal’s most vocal opponent is Tara Hollis, a Haynesville schoolteacher and political newcomer who is running as a Democrat.

Aaron Baer, Jindal’s campaign spokesman, declined to comment on whether Hollis poses a threat to the governor’s re-election efforts.

“We’re proud to run on our record,” Baer said.

Hollis recently thanked the governor for contributing $5,000 from his campaign fund to her Haynesville Junior High School special needs classroom.

She suggested, presumably tongue-in-cheek, that he donate the rest of his campaign fund to other classrooms across the state.

“I was thinking that perhaps you would be willing to extend the same generosity to adopt at least one needy classroom in each of Louisiana’s roughly two-thousand public schools. I think you will find that such a gift, to teachers and classrooms far more worthy than I, would have a profound impact on our State,” Hollis wrote in a letter to the governor.

She also asked for a meeting with Jindal.

Baer said Jindal knew Hollis was running against him when he made the contribution through the “Adopt A Classroom” program.

He said the governor’s intention was to demonstrate that a small amount of money can make a huge impact in the classroom. He said Jindal is willing to meet with Hollis.

“We are actually looking forward to setting up that meeting,” Baer said.

Vitter also is seeking money contributions but for a different cause. He asked for contributions of up to $2,500 for the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority.

The group, which Vitter helped found, aims to elect conservative leaders.

“To help Bobby become as engaged and bold as possible in his second term, we need a more conservative legislature, particularly in the State Senate,” Vitter wrote supporters.

The committee’s website does not appear to be regularly updated. The home page features a letter from Vitter’s wife, Wendy, that seems to have been written last year.

Vitter gives the committee credit for the Republican majorities in the state Senate and the Louisiana House.

“We’re one of only four states with major elections this year. So all of these victories can really help build conservative momentum for 2012 nationally as well,” he wrote.