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Melancon Announces Challenge to Vitter

By Ben Pershing
Rep. Charlie Melancon (D) announced Thursday that he would challenge Sen. David Vitter (R) in 2010, making official a candidacy that was widely expected and will ensure a competitive contest in Louisiana next fall.

"Today, I'm announcing my candidacy for the U.S. Senate to replace David Vitter because Louisiana deserves better," Melancon said in a video announcement. "Louisiana needs a different approach. More bipartisan. More disciplined. More honest and with a whole lot more common sense."

Melancon has represented the 3rd district, which covers the southern part of the the state, since he was elected in 2004 to succeed Rep. Billy Tauzin (R). A member of the conservative Blue Dogs, Melancon has been able to hold a Republican-leaning district by opposing abortion rights and gay marriage and supporting gun rights. He boosted his statewide profile after Hurricane Katrina by working to secure federal aid for the state and for serving on a congressional panel that investigated the government's response to the disaster.

Vitter, meanwhile, has had a somewhat rocky tenure since being elected to the Senate in 2004. His alleged involvement in the "D.C. Madam" scandal has made him vulnerable in a culturally conservative state, Democrats believe, though Vitter has worked hard to move past the scandal and has been socking away campaign cash. He had more than $3 million in the bank at the end of June, while Melancon had $1.2 million in his House campaign account.

National Democrats cheered Melancon's move.

"Charlie may have stepped into the national spotlight when he helped lead efforts to assist Louisiana after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but Louisianans know him best as a proud family man and experienced small business owner with a common sense approach to bringing people together, solving problems and getting results," said Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "I have every confidence that Charlie Melancon will run a strong campaign and by next November, voters will want him serving as an independent voice for Louisiana in the United State Senate."

But Republicans made clear that they plan to paint Melancon as too liberal to represent Louisiana, which Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won with 59 percent of the vote in the 2008 presidential contest.

"Whether he's championing President Obama's bloated spending agenda, supporting the Democrats' job-killing card check legislation, or voting hand-in-hand with Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi 93 percent of the time in 2008, Charlie Melancon has clearly demonstrated that he is not in touch with the issues that are important to the people of Louisiana," said National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Amber Wilkerson.

By Ben Pershing  |  August 27, 2009; 1:51 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Campaign  
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"Diaper Dave" Vitter starts to sweat. Isn't the pornstar Stormy Daniels running against him, too? After the revelations about the DC Madame in 2007 I was sure he wouldn't run. But he seems to think he can defy political death. Why do the right wing Christians always have such sordid personal lives?

Posted by: osullivanc1 | August 30, 2009 1:50 AM | Report abuse

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