Only a few weeks after Sen. David Vitter lost the 2015 Louisiana governor's race and said he would not seek re-election to the Senate, two other Republicans in the state's congressional delegation — Reps. Charles Boustany Jr., and John Fleming — said they would begin campaigns to replace him.
On Tuesday, the two were joined by another, State Treasurer John N. Kennedy, who announced his own, long-awaited bid in the race. If nobody gets more than 50 percent of the vote on Nov. 8, the race could move into a runoff and be the last Senate contest decided this year. Kennedy has run for Senate twice before – once in 2004 as a Democrat, and another four years later as a Republican.
"Some politicians call me a troublemaker, a misfit, a rebel, a square peg in a round hole, because I'm not part of the club," he said in a statement announcing his third campaign for the job. "I think I make the right people mad. My job is to protect taxpayers, not seek the approval of my political peers. I hope voters will give me a chance to do the same thing in the United States Senate."
Kennedy, whose federal campaign committee will start from scratch, joins the race with a cash disadvantage, compared to his two opponents. As of October, Boustany had $1.5 million in the bank and Fleming had $2.3 million.
Still, Kennedy spent heavily on positive ads for himself during his 2015 re-election campaign, and some have suggested that he could transfer the nearly $3 million in leftover funds from his state campaign account to a federal super PAC, though some Republican lawyers have suggested the law on that is not entirely settled.
According to a December survey of Louisiana by Market Research Insight obtained by Roll Call, Kennedy, who enjoys a 56 percent favorability rating among voters, would enter the race tied with Boustany at 22 percent each, with the two trailed by Fleming at 8 percent.
That survey assumed Democrat Mitch Landrieu, the mayor of New Orleans, would be in the mix of the state's "jungle primary" (when candidates run in the same primary regardless of political party), pulling 32 percent during the November match-up; but he has subsequently said he would not run. No other major Democrat has announced a campaign.