>Louisiana Senator David Vitter, who for a while looked like he would escape the anti-incumbent pall leading up to November's midterms, is in for a tough reelection battle. Up until Friday, Vitter carried a solid 15-point lead over Democratic challenger Charlie Melancon and enjoyed a 62 percent favorability rating and 45 percent job approval (contrast that with 17.6 percent job approval for Congress as a whole). But with only a few minutes to spare before the filing deadline on Friday evening, a respected and well-connected former Louisiana Supreme Court Justice filed his candidacy for the Republican nomination. Vitter will now go up against Chet Traylor in the state's August 28 primary.
Why the delay in Traylor's candidacy? Despite Vitter's prostitution scandal in 2007, the freshman senator has seemed set for reelection. As of March 31, he'd raised $9.4 million, much of it from the oil and health care industries. He'd built a strong campaign line denouncing Melancon's support for the Obama agenda. Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne had considering running against Vitter but ultimately passed.
In the past few weeks, however, Vitter has battled a media hailstorm about a staffer arrested two years ago for holding his girlfriend at knife point. Vitter had claimed that the staffer, Brent Furer, had been disciplined, but the issue resurfaced when rumors circulated that Furer has been assigned to women's issues within Vitter's office. Vitter fired Furer and denied that the aide had worked on women's issues, though he did admit that Furer's portfolio included abortion.