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Retiring Vitter Leaves Open La Senate Seat

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Vitter concedes governorship on Nov. 21, 2015. (AP)

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Tuesday, 24 Nov 2015 08:31 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Louisiana Republicans are feeling confident that they will hold the seat of retiring Sen. David Vitter in 2016, even as Democrats swept the governorship of the Pelican State on Saturday.

“John Bel Edwards’ election as governor was clearly a personal victory for him, and nothing more,” veteran GOP consultant Roy Fletcher told me. Although conservative Democrat Edwards defeated Vitter by a wide margin — 57 percent to 43 percent, Republicans handily won all other statewide contests. In addition, he noted, Republicans still control both houses of the state legislature.

As he conceded the gubernatorial contest to Edwards, Vitter also announced he would not seek a third term as senator next year. Where Republicans have a full stable of candidates seemingly anxious to run for his seat, Louisiana Democrats have only two possible candidates who share the same name: former three-term Sen. Mary Landrieu and her brother, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Mary Landrieu, beaten badly for re-election last year, has remained primarily in Washington, D.C., since her loss.

“I don’t see Mary running and Mitch is more likely to angle for a Cabinet position if there is a Democratic president,” former Rep. Bob Livingston, R-La., told me.

Fletcher disagreed, saying “Mitch Landrieu could run for the Senate and, if he loses, end up in the Cabinet. Call him a man of options.”

Among Republicans, the two most-oft mentioned Senate hopefuls are Reps. Charles Boustany and John Fleming, both physicians known for their opposition to the Affordable Health Care Act.

Although both are considered strong conservatives (Boustany has a lifetime rating of 86.23 percent with the American Conservative Union, Fleming 96.67 percent), their differences are primarily stylistic. Where Boustany is considered more of an “establishment” Republican, “tea party” favorite Fleming is considered a political outsider and more outspoken.

Also mentioned as a candidate is State Treasurer John Kennedy, who drew 45 percent of the vote against Sen. Landrieu in 2008, and retired U.S. Air Force Col. Rob Maness.

Last year, backed by Sarah Palin and Focus on the Family head Tony Perkins, Maness drew about 15 percent of the vote in the “jungle primary” topped by fellow Republican and Rep. Bill Cassidy and Democrat Landrieu. In the resulting run-off, he strongly backed eventual big winner Cassidy.

Just over a week after Bobby Jindal ended his presidential campaign, there was some talk that the outgoing governor of Louisiana would switch to a Senate race. But Jindal campaign manager Timmy Teeple promptly scuttled talk of “Jindal for Senate,” saying a bid for Vitter’s seat was not on his boss’s radar.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
 

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Louisiana Republicans are feeling confident that they will hold the seat of retiring Sen. David Vitter in 2016, even as Democrats swept the governorship of the Pelican State on Saturday.
vitter, louisiana, edwards, palin
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2015-31-24
Tuesday, 24 Nov 2015 08:31 AM
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