U.S. Sen. David Vitter said Tuesday he would decide in January if he would run for Louisiana governor in 2015.
Vitter said he would be sending supporters an email Wednesday announcing that he and his wife were considering the race.
The Republican from Metairie, who is in his second term, said in the email that he expects to have a decision after the holidays. Of the governor’s race, Vitter told The Associated Press, “This is the logical time to do it, if I’m ever going to do it.”
Gov. Bobby Jindal is forbidden by the Louisiana Constitution from serving three consecutive terms.
Vitter would be a formidable candidate if he chooses to run in the election, which is two years away. But Vitter would face other popular elected officials with large campaign war chests who also want to be the state’s chief executive and said Tuesday that the junior senator’s announcement of a pending announcement did little to change their plans.
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, a Republican from Baton Rouge, said, “I intend to run regardless of what David chooses to do.”
“It doesn’t change my position at all. I’m very seriously considering running for governor,” said state Treasurer John N. Kennedy, a Republican from Madisonville. “But I haven’t made a decision … It is too early to worry about politics and wondering who the next the governor is going to be.”
Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, of Breaux Bridge, also is frequently named as a possible candidate. He said by text message that he would not be able to comment until Wednesday.
“I always thought he was going to run,” said state Rep. John Bel Edwards, of Amite and the only Democrat who has announced gubenatorial aspirations. He added that Vitter’s imminent announcement doesn’t impact his candidacy.
Edwards said Vitter is far more conservative than Jindal. “Everytime he (Vitter) complained about the governor, it was because Gov. Jindal didn’t go far enough ... We’ve reformed ourselves into dysfunction in our state,” Edwards said.
When asked in a recent poll who would win the election among Angelle, Dardenne, Edwards, Kennedy and Vitter, 30 percent of the 600 likely Louisiana voters told Southern Media & Opinion Research that the junior senator would get their vote. Kennedy followed with 18.9 percent, Dardenne had 18 percent, Edwards 8 percent and Angelle 2 percent with 22.9 percent undecided, according to the survey.
Gov. Bobby Jindal said Tuesday night it’s too early to start thinking about the next governor’s race. He said there is plenty of time for him to make an endorsement should he choose to do so.
Vitter’s possible candidacy has been often hinted at during the past few years and he never firmly tamped down the speculation.
During the past few legislative sessions, Vitter phoned self-styled fiscal conservatives on the Louisiana House floor.
The primary election is scheduled for Oct. 24, 2015, with a runoff, if necessary, scheduled for Nov. 21, 2015. Qualifying begins on Sept. 8, 2015.