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David Vitter, Bobby Jindal and the Fix Endorsement Hierarchy

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is refusing to endorse home state Sen. David Vitter this fall. Where does it fit in the Fix endorsement hierarchy? AP Photo

Louisiana Sen. David Vitter is one of a small handful of Republicans in any danger of losing a re-election bid this fall, a self-inflicted vulnerability that is the result of his 2007 acknowledgment of involvement in the "D.C. Madam" prostitution ring and a more recent controversy surrounding a former staffer named Brent Furer.

In spite of his personal -- and personnel (heyooo!) -- problems, Vitter is still favored in the fall against Rep. Charlie Melancon (D) after a stronger-than-expected showing in last month's Republican primary.

But, Vitter's past indiscretions are not without impact -- most notably in a persistent unwillingness on the part of popular Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) to endorse the Senator's candidacy.

"What continues to be true is we have not yet endorsed in any of the federal races in Louisiana," Jindal told the Baton Rouge Advocate on Wednesday.

Those comments came just days after Jindal created a small-scale stir by insisting that "voters in Louisiana are smart enough to make up their own minds and decide who to vote for."

While Jindal and his office quickly moved to downplay any hidden meaning in his comments, it seems relatively obvious that the governor, who is widely seen as one of the Republican party's rising stars at the national level, is steering clear of offering his stamp of approval to the state's junior Senator.

Jindal's strategy fits neatly into the "non endorsement endorsement" category of our handy, dandy Fix Endorsement Hierarchy -- our attempt to catalog the types (and relative importance) of endorsements in the political world. (The full Fix Endorsement Hierarchy is after the jump.)

Make no mistake: Viiter would l-o-v-e an endorsement from Jindal. Jindal is not only a darling of national Republicans but also a well-liked and trusted figure within Louisiana GOP circles. A recent poll in the state found that 65 percent said they would vote to re-elect him next year -- a very strong showing for any incumbent in this electoral environment -- and it's a certainty that his numbers are even stronger among Republicans.

Vitter needs as many verifiers of his conservative bona fides as possible since if he can simply turn out conservatives -- Republicans, independents and even some Democrats -- he will almost certainly win. (Louisiana gave Sen. John McCain 59 percent of the vote in 2008.)

Jindal's resistance to providing a full-throated endorsement -- or any endorsement at all -- is understandable given the trajectory of the Louisiana governor on the national stage. But, Jindal will almost certainly come under heavy pressure to stand behind Vitter between now and Nov. 2. Will he do it?

The Fix Endorsement Hierarchy (ranked in order of influence)

* The Symbolic Endorsement: Ted Kennedy backing Barack Obama during the 2008 primaries.
* The In-State Statewide Endorsement: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist throwing his support to John McCain just before the Sunshine State presidential primary in 2008.
* The Celebrity Endorsement: Chuck Norris for Mike Huckabee in 2008.
* The Newspaper Endorsement: The Washington Post endorsing state Sen. Creigh Deeds in the 2009 Virginia Democratic gubernatorial primary.
* Out-of-State Statewide Endorsement: South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint endorsing former Florida state House Speaker Marco Rubio in the 2010 Senate primary.
* The What Goes Around Comes Around Endorsement: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani endorsing former state House Speaker Marco Rubio in the 2010 Florida Senate primary.
* The Obligatory Endorsement: Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran endorsing McCain's presidential bid in 2008.
* The "Me for Me" Endorsement: Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) endorsing Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak's (D) Senate campaign.
* The Non-Endorsement Endorsement: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) passing on an endorsement of Sen. David Vitter's (R) 2010 re-election bid.
* The Pariah Endorsement: Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards (D) endorsing anyone.

By Chris Cillizza  | September 9, 2010; 11:33 AM ET
Categories:  Fix Endorsement Hierarchy  
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