LA-Sen: Perkins Turns Down Vitter Primary Challenge
This hasn't been a very good week for Louisiana Sen. David Vitter but it's ending on a positive note: Family Research Council president Tony Perkins has decided not to challenge him in next year's Republican primary.
"I am grateful for those who've encouraged me to consider returning to elected office, but this is not the right time," wrote Perkins in a letter to state party chairman Roger Villere. "Along those lines, I would like members of the State Central Committee to know that I support Senator David Vitter's bid for reelection in 2010."
Perkins' decision removes a major potential hurdle to Vitter's chances at reelection in 2010. Not only had Perkins run for the Senate once before (he took 10 percent in a 2002 open primary) but his position as a leading social conservative also had the potential to shine a bright light on Vitter's involvement in the "D.C. Madam" prostitution scandal in 2007.
Perkins is the second potential Republican primary challenger to take himself out of consideration. Former Rep. John Cooksey, who also ran in that 2002 primary, bowed out earlier this month.
Secretary of State Jay Dardenne (R) continues to mull a primary challenge to Vitter and a recent Research 2000 poll conducted for the liberal Daily Kos website showed that it would be a competitive affair.
Democrats have yet to find a top tier candidate. The most commonly mentioned names are Shaw Group CEO Jim Bernhard, former Rep. Don Cazayoux and state Sen. Rob Marioneaux.
Vitter isn't out of the woods by a long shot but Perkins' decision to stay out makes his path -- particularly in the primary -- considerably easier.
March 13, 2009; 1:23 PM ET
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