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Scandal-plagued Vitter throws hat into governor's race

U.S Sen. David Vitter is officially throwing his hat into the 2015 Louisiana governor’s race, the Republican announced on Tuesday.
Sen. David Vitter
Sen. David Vitter, (R-LA), arrives on the second floor of the Capitol on March 22, 2013.

Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter is officially throwing his hat into the 2015 Bayou State governor’s race, he announced Tuesday, less than seven years after surviving a political scandal that linked him to the so-called “D.C. Madam,” who was convicted in 2008 on charges related to running a high-end prostitution ring.

Yep, that David Vitter.

In a video messaged entitled “My Decision,” Vitter vowed -- should he be elected governor -- to focus on strengthening education, growing businesses, reforming tax and spending codes, and “through it all, fighting political corruption and demanding government reform and accountability.”

“That’s a battle I’ve long waged,” he continued. “The difference is I’ll have so many more tools as governor to do things right, and to protect taxpayer dollars.”

Vitter would not face re-election for his Senate seat until 2016, and he does not have to give up his current seat to run for governor. He added that if he won the gubernatorial election, it would be his "last political job--elected or appointed, period."

As of now, the race to succeed the term-limited Gov. Bobby Jindal, a potential Republican 2016 contender, also includes Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards. Both have already declared their intentions to run. GOP state Treasurer John Kennedy has also said he’s “seriously” considering entering the race.

Vitter prepared to run for Louisiana governor in 2003, but he dropped out after allegations surfaced of a relationship with a prostitute. He went on to win a seat in the U.S. Senate two years later.

But things went south in 2007 when Vitter’s phone number turned up in a list of records belonging to Deborah Jeane Palfrey, also knows as the “D.C. Madam,” who was convicted on several charges related to running an escort service for Washington’s elite. Vitter admitted to committing a “sin,” but he never stepped down or faced criminal charges. He went on to win re-election in 2010 with 57% of the vote in the general election, and 88% in the primary, according to NBC News' Domenico Montanaro.

Vitter’s Democratic colleagues, however, have been less forgiving. When Vitter authored an Obamacare amendment that would have gotten rid of government contributions to cover federal workers’ health care costs, Democratic Sens. Harry Reid of Nevada and Barbara Boxer of California countered by floating legislation that “would ban senators from getting government contributions for their health insurance costs if there is ‘probable cause’ they solicited prostitutes.”

Watch Sen. Vitter's announcement: