Vitter still mulling decision on governor’s race
By JOHN MAGINNIS
and JEREMY ALFORD
LaPolitics News Service
In a recent interview with LaPolitics.com, U.S. Sen. David Vitter said there were no ulterior motives to his December announcement about his possible run for governor. But it was definitely an incomplete declaration and a definitive answer is expected sometime this month.
“I wanted my friends and supporters to know we are now seriously considering the race,” Vitter said, adding he wasn’t trying to prematurely clear the field.
Given how much Vitter has enjoyed fiddling with state government and Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration in the past, it’s a safe assumption that he’ll be ripping a page from the playbook of former Gov. Edwin Edwards, who spent the run-up to the 1983 election second-guessing every move then-Gov. Dave Treen made, forming coalitions and raising money on the back of it all.
As for how that might play out, it’s unclear. Vitter said the Committee for a Republican Majority, which he helped create to elect members of the Legislature, is still active, but decisions are being made by a panel and he didn’t express any serious interest in getting behind an early effort.
He said he’ll be keeping an eye on the 2014 session as well, but hasn’t identified any policy issues he might chime in on.
“I’m interested in the future of Louisiana and the state Legislature no matter what, whether I’m a senator or running for governor,” he said.
While Vitter is unlikely to take campaign supporters on an eight-day tour of Versailles and Monte Carlo like Edwards did in the ’83 race, he will be setting precedents of his own, mainly through the Fund for Louisiana’s Future, a Super PAC that was created to support his efforts.
A couple maximum $100,000 donations have already been dropped into the kitty, but the PAC’s lawyers are asking the Ethics Administration to lift the cap based on a 2010 Supreme Court ruling. It’s likely to happen and could result in million-dollar donations.
Vitter can’t have a say in how the Super PAC spends its tally, now approaching $800,000, but he will have his own state campaign account, to be established after his final decision is announced this month, he said.
Sources in D.C., however, contend he’s already talking openly about the run. And his actions there speak louder than words, as he continues to burn bridges and push unpopular amendments — unpopular inside the rails, that is, but they resonate well with his base back home.
For example, Vitter’s not letting up on his provision to put members of Congress on the Obamacare exchanges. There’s no vehicle identified yet for his next push on the issue, but it’s coming.
“We look from week to week for every opportunity,” he said.
Should Vitter decide against running for governor, there could be an opportunity for him to move up in the Senate leadership. He’s currently the ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee. But if the GOP takes control of the upper chamber and Vitter sticks it out, a chairmanship could be in the stars.
“Every Republican stature would move up,” he said. “But there are a lot of moving pieces. I can’t be sure.”
for U.S. Senate?
As reported last month by LaPolitics, rumors have been swirling that Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, is no longer considering running in the 6th Congressional District. They’re unconfirmed rumors, however, with FRC’s spokesperson refusing to comment on our initial inquiry.
Now Politico is reporting that “some of the religious right’s wealthiest backers and top operatives” are teaming up to coordinate political spending and court big donors.
While the playbook is supposedly still coming together, sources tell Politico that the game plan will closely follow models previously perfected by Karl Rove and the Koch brothers. Moreover, South Dakota businessman Bob Fischer has reportedly said in private conversations that Perkins running for the U.S. Senate would be “the sort of campaign that the new effort could support.”
Perkins ran against Sen. Mary Landrieu in 2002 and finished fourth. He did not respond to requests for comment from Politico.
Law professor running
for secretary of state
Chris Tyson, a law professor at LSU and former staffer for U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, has announced his candidacy for Secretary of State and is already raising money. While he wouldn’t reveal his fundraising total, Tyson, a 38-year-old Democrat, did say he has hosted events in Atlanta and D.C.
“We’re focusing on family and friends right now but it has been invigorating,” he said.
Tyson said his campaign has less to do with challenging the leadership of incumbent Secretary of State Tom Schedler, a Republican, and more with offering voters a different option.
“I do not even know him and don’t know what plans he has,” said Tyson, “but secretary of state is a critically vital position at the intersection of the integrity of our democracy and the strength of our economy. As a business lawyer, I understand the importance of having effective and efficient business relationships.”
For a statewide office that is usually dominated by white candidates, Tyson, as an African-American politician, stands to bring a new perspective to the 2015 contest.
They Said It
“If I have to decide today, I would stay in the Senate.”
—State Sen. Gerald Long, R-Winnfield, on running for governor
“Whenever Karl Rove and the Koch brothers see a Senate race they think they can win, you can bet they’ll be on it like a duck on June bugs.”
—James Carville, in a fundraising letter on behalf of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu