Dardenne considers run for U.S. Senate

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne said Friday he is at least “pondering” running for the U.S. Senate next year after a national poll last month indicated he could be best positioned to challenge U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.

While Dardenne is far from running for a job in Washington, he joins a pool of Louisiana contenders with Landrieu representing one of the biggest GOP targets for 2014.

Last month’s poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, of North Carolina, which conducts polls for Democrats and progressives, had Landrieu with 46 percent to Dardenne’s 43 percent in a head-to-head matchup.

It was a closer margin than when Landrieu was pitted against U.S. Reps. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge; Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette; or John Fleming, R-Minden, all of whom have openly flirted with running.

Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education President Chas Roemer, who is the Republican son of former Gov. Buddy Roemer, also is considering running.

“It makes you think,” Dardenne said of the polling results. “It makes you ponder at least.”

Conventional wisdom has long put Dardenne’s sights on the governor’s office in 2015, and Dardenne is not backing away from that.

“I haven’t made a secret of my interest in that job and that hasn’t changed,” Dardenne said, but that he just is not ready to rule out a potential Senate bid.

He said he has gotten some calls from supporters about possibly running for the U.S. Senate since the poll came out but he has no “timeframe” for making any decisions.

“It’s not something I’ve been thinking about or planning,” Dardenne said. “I’m just trying to do what I’m supposed to do in this job and promoting Louisiana.”

Dardenne, 59, of Baton Rouge, became lieutenant governor in 2010 after serving as secretary of state. Prior to that office, he was in the Louisiana Senate for nearly 15 years.

Dardenne said he enjoyed the legislating and debate of the state Senate and that he misses it sometimes.