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Vitter Out of Louisiana Gov. Race

Louisiana Sen. David Vitter (R) sent a letter to supporters today -- a copy of which was obtained by The Fix -- taking himself out of the running for the Bayou State's 2007 gubernatorial election.

"I'm flattered by the talk," Vitter wrote. "But I am completely focused on, and challenged and fulfilled by, my work in the U.S. Senate. Even in these pressure-packed times, it is my dream job."

Just in case someone might have missed the message, Vitter adds: "In short, I have no plans to run for governor in 2007."

Although he will not run, Vitter goes on to assure his supporters that he has "personally spoken to another well-known conservative reformer who has assured me that he will now definitely make the race, no matter who else does or does not run." Although Vitter names no names, it's not a far leap to assume that the candidate in question is Rep. Bobby Jindal (R), who ran a near-miss gubernatorial bid in 2003 before being easily elected to Vitter's old House seat in 2004.

Jindal has made no secret of his interest in serving as the state's governor and is widely expected to run for the post against Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D) in 2007. Blanco, who came from behind to beat Jindal 52 percent to 48 percent in 2003, is seen as extremely vulnerable due to the generally negative reviews she received for her handling of Hurricane Katrina, which decimated large swaths of the state.

Blanco did report $2.4 million in her campaign account at the end of 2005 and has pledged to seek re-election in 2007. Some Democrats, wary of Blanco's political liabilities, are attempting to recruit former Louisiana Sen. John Breaux into the contest. Should Breaux decide to run, he would likely enter a primary against Blanco as the favorite.

Vitter's decision to take himself out of contention marks the second time in four years he has decided against a gubernatorial bid. In 2002, Vitter was seen as the GOP frontrunner for the 2003 race, but bowed out citing family concerns. He subsequently entered and won the 2004 Senate race to replace Breaux -- becoming the first Republican in 121 years to represent the state in the Senate.

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 21, 2006; 4:48 PM ET
Categories:  Governors  
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