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After Vitter's Loss, Louisiana Republicans Eye His Senate Seat

Louisiana gubernatorial candidate Vitter, center, speaks to reporters after his debate against Democratic candidate John Bel Edwards, in Baton Rouge, La., Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Even before Republican Sen. David Vitter's announcement that he would not seek re-election next fall after his loss in the Louisiana governor's race  Saturday night, a number of Pelican State Republicans were already looking at his seat.  

Reps. Charles Boustany Jr. and John Fleming, and state Treasurer John Kennedy — all of whom supported Vitter's campaign — had been hoping for an appointment by Vitter in the event he was elected. Now, they will now have to take their ambitions to the voters.   Kennedy, during an interview Saturday night at Vitter's election watch party, shrugged off questions about whether he will run for Vitter's seat.  

"We've got a new governor and that's all I can say right now," he said. "People here are tired of politics tonight."  

Kennedy, a former Democrat who became a Republican in 2007, was just re-elected this year. He has a large campaign fund that could be transferred to a political action committee to boost a possible Senate campaign. Meanwhile, Boustany has $1.4 million in the bank in his federal account, while Fleming has has $2.3 million, both of which could be transferred to a Senate campaign.  

In a statement, Boustany thanked Vitter "for his service to Louisiana and our country," and touted their work "together" on issues such as veterans aid, infrastructure funding and their opposition to the president's health care law.

"David has served our state well," he said.

Another possibility, Louisiana Republicans said on Saturday, is Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who ran against Vitter for governor who lost in the primary. He subsequently endorsed Vitter's opponent, Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards, who beat Vitter by 10 points on Saturday.  

Vitter, damaged by a long and brutal governor's race, was not likely to have had support from national Republicans. One national operative told CQ Roll Call this month  that Vitter’s loss would mean that he is “going to have to have a long look in the mirror and come to the realization that he probably can’t win re-election” in 2016.  

The Louisiana Senate race is rated Safe Republican by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call.  

— Jason Berry in New Orleans contributed to this report.  

Related:
Vitter Won’t Seek Re-Election After Louisiana Governor’s Loss Roll Call Race Ratings Map: Ratings for Every House and Senate Race in 2016

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