Sen. David Vitter has been the favorite to become Louisiana’s next governor since he announced his campaign in January. But he’s facing a rockier-than-expected campaign, with Republicans attacking his personal integrity and a centrist Democrat emerging as a credible candidate.
On Saturday, Louisiana voters will choose among four leading candidates in the gubernatorial primary: Vitter, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle—a Democrat-turned-Republican who is a former appointee of Gov. Bobby Jindal—Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, and former state Rep. John Bel Edwards, the lone Democrat running competitively in the race. There are five other candidates, including two other Democrats, but none are expected to win a significant share of the vote.
If no candidate wins a majority of support on Saturday—which is increasingly likely—then the top two vote getters will advance to a runoff election Nov. 21. Public polls indicate a runoff between Edwards and Vitter is likely, unless another Republican squeezes enough votes from Vitter to claim the second runoff spot, an outside possibility given Vitter’s unique vulnerabilities.
The race has been defined by outgoing Gov. Bobby Jindal’s unpopularity and the budget problems that he’ll leave behind. All four candidates have sought to draw distinctions between themselves and Jindal over both his personal style—Jindal is cast as inaccessible and too focused on his political ambitions at the expense of governing—and on policy. Jindal never made an endorsement in the race to replace him, and none of the Republicans in the race are endorsing Jindal’s presidential bid.