Sen. David “Diaperman” Vitter (R-LA) has lost today’s runoff gubernatorial election in Louisiana. Vitter was defeated by Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards (LA-72), who has led in all recent polling for the race.
Vitter is infamous for a 2007 sex scandal when his phone number was among those found in the “D.C. Madam’s” phone book. Vitter responded to the scandal by offering an apology with his wife, Wendy, by his side, in what might be the most awkward political moment in history. And he refused to resign.
The moniker “Diaperman” is from reports that the Senator enjoyed diaper play with at least one prostitute.
Despite the scandal, Vitter was reelected to his U.S. Senate seat in 2010. This year he ran for Governor.
Vitter’s opponent, John Bel Edwards, made effective use of Vitter’s prostitution scandal.
This race has a number of implications. First, it means that the Democrats have won back a Governor’s seat. Bobby Jindal (R) has been the Governor since 2008, but must step down on account of term limits. Jindal ran for the G.O.P. presidential nomination for 2016, but dropped out this past week.
The second big implication has to do with Vitter’s Senate seat. Vitter can run for reelection to the U.S. Senate. But tonight Vitter announced he will not run for reelection. Furthermore, he said he will fulfill the last year of his Senate term.
The implications for this are huge. If Vitter resigned now, Jindal would be able to appoint a replacement who would, effectively, be an incumbent for 2016. But Vitter and Jindal hate each other, so Vitter will not give Jindal the opportunity to pick a successor. The result is that the U.S. Senate 3rd class seat for Louisiana will be an open race in 2016.
In my recent analysis of the Senate race, Democrats would most likely win 49 seats if the election was held now. That analysis assumed that (1) Vitter would lose the gubernatorial race, (2) Vitter would run as the incumbent for his seat, and (3) he would win with 100% certainty.
Now we know that will not happen. Instead there will be an open seat in Louisiana for 2016. It is too early to tell who the candidates will be. Both sides have potential strong candidates, but none have declared yet. We do know that the strongest candidates on each side, Bobby Jindal (R) and Mary Landrieu (D), have declined to run. Maybe they will reconsider.
I usually stay away from predictions, but I’ll offer a conditional prediction here. If the Democrats manage to reach at least 50 seats in 2016, it will be because Louisiana elected a Democrat to the Senate.