Melancon may challenge Vitter in Senate

Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.) confirmed Friday that he is weighing a campaign against Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) in 2010, but he declined to confirm a report that said he was going to run.

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“Many Louisianans have encouraged me to run for U.S. Senate next year,” Melancon said in a statement. “I am discussing this opportunity with my wife and kids and will be making an announcement in the coming weeks.”

LA Politics Weekly
reported Thursday, citing anonymous sources, that Melancon had decided to enter the Senate race. The website is run by political analyst John Maginnis.

While Melancon did not confirm the report, Friday’s statement is a public acknowledgment that he is weighing the race. In the past, Melancon has declined to speculate about his plans, including saying earlier this year that he wasn’t actively considering the race.

If he does run, Democrats would have a strong challenger to Vitter, who has been tarred by a prostitution scandal.

“For the past five years, I have been honored to serve the people of Louisiana's 3rd district as their Congressman,” Melancon said.

“The challenges we have faced in the wake of four hurricanes and a national recession are deeply personal. I have worked to be a bipartisan leader that does not let party politics get in the way of Louisiana's progress. I want to continue to serve.”

If he stays in the House, Melancon could face a general-election matchup with state Rep. Nickie Monica (R) in a district that went more than 60 percent for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the presidential race. Conventional wisdom also suggests that Melancon could have a tough time with his district after the next round of redistricting, in which Louisiana is likely to lose a seat.