Sen. David VitterDavid VitterOvernight Energy: Trump outlines 'America First' energy plan in North Dakota Paul blocks chemical safety bill in Senate House Republican pushes bill to 'curb regulatory overreach' MORE (R-La.) announced Tuesday he will run for governor in 2015, a decision many had long expected.
Vitter said he believes he could have a bigger impact on the state from a perch in the governor’s mansion rather than his current Senate seat.
He added: “I believe as our next governor, I can have a bigger impact addressing the unique challenges and opportunities we face in Louisiana.”
Vitter said an active campaign for governor is a year away. But he would begin by listening to voters. He touted the amount of town halls he has held as a senator.
“Let me first assure you that this decision will in no way limit the critical work I am doing today in the U.S. Senate,” he said. “Representing you and your family will continue to be my top priority.”
He said his focus would remain solely on the state, since he does not have higher political aspirations above governor.
“This will be my last political job, elected or appointed. Period. So my only agenda will be to do what is best for Louisianans,” he said.
In his announcement, Vitter mentioned education, job creation, the budget and fighting political corruption as his top priorities.
Vitter, who has served two terms in the Senate, is up for reelection in 2016. Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) is term limited after his current term is up. But with the off-year election, Vitter won't have to give up his seat first.
Vitter had been rumored to be mulling a bid for months, and had promised to make a decision by January to give him time to lay the groundwork for a run.
A super-PAC supporting the senator, which could help with his gubernatorial run, announced earlier this month it had raised $1.5 million in 2013.
A run for governor could dredge up old allegations Vitter was involved in a prostitution ring in 2007. At the time, he said he had committed a serious sin but has not commented further.
The Senate Ethics Committee dismissed a complaint about the incident in 2008, partly because it occurred before he entered the Senate.
Vitter won his 2004 Senate race with 51 percent of the vote. After the scandal in 2010, he won again with 57 percent. A poll last year showed him leading a number of potential gubernatorial primary opponents.