When Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) was caught up in a prostitution scandal in 2007, after having run as a "family values" candidate," it seemed as if his career was in real jeopardy. The married, far-right Republican had, after all, gone so far as to arrange liaisons while on the floor of Congress.
But time elapsed; the statute of limitations expired on Vitter's misdeeds (literally, not metaphorically); Louisiana became a more reliable "red" state; and the senator's political standing recovered. In 2010, he was re-elected easily.
Vitter is now eyeing a new prize: the governor's office.
Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter will be a candidate in Louisiana's 2015 governor's race, announcing his decision Tuesday in an email to supporters. "I believe that as our next Governor, I can have a bigger impact addressing the unique challenges and opportunities we face in Louisiana," the senator said in an email obtained by The Associated Press from a member of Vitter's staff.
Vitter hopes to replace Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who will be forced from his post due to term limits. Because the gubernatorial race is in 2015, effectively, Vitter has an free shot -- if he wins, he gives up his Senate seat and heads to Baton Rouge. If he loses, Vitter returns to his day job on Capitol Hill and seeks re-election in 2016.
And while the senator will clearly be a formidable candidate -- Vitter is popular and has a proven track record of raising lots of money -- one of the things that will make this race fascinating is a behind-the-scenes feud: Bobby Jindal and David Vitter really don't like each other.
It was striking, for example, when the sitting governor refused to endorse Vitter's re-election campaign in 2010, reinforcing rumors of deep, personality animosity between the two far-right Republicans.
Marin Cogan reported last year that it's "become an open secret in Louisiana Republican circles" that the two men "loathe each other."
It means voters are likely to see the sitting Republican governor going out of his way to undermine the highest-profile Republican candidate seeking to replace him. And since a GOP primary is apparently inevitable -- Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne (R), among others, is gearing up for next year's race -- Vitter won't just face intra-party rivals, he'll also go up against Jindal's existing operation.