Next race nothing to think about
Sen. David Vitter insists he has not given a "millisecond of thought" to running for governor in 2015. Some may find that hard to believe, but lately he has a lot on his mind, and on his plate.
Now the ranking Republican on the Environmental and Public Works Committee, he also advances in leadership as a newly named deputy whip. He is working on legislation to reorganize the Army Corps of Engineers while also pushing for tougher oversight of Wall Street megabanks. Speaking out more bluntly than ever, he recently called the Senate Majority Leader an "idiot" for his comment on Katrina victims, and GOP colleague Sen. Marco Rubio "naīve" about immigration policy.
Eclipsing all that, at least last weekend, was his first Washington Mardi Gras stint as captain of the Mystick Krewe of Louisianians. As with everything else, Vitter threw himself into it, even wearing tights to the ball.
Still, not a millisecond? His explanation to Politico: "I think it's insanely early to focus on that. I'm not thinking about it. Will I be thinking about it in a year? I honestly don't know because I haven't even started thinking about whether I want to think about it."
For ordinary folk, from recent college graduates to workers nearing retirement, it is hardly insane—actually, it is quite prudent and practical—to think about what they want to be doing five years from now. For a politician to admit to such thoughts, however, is to risk being seen as a craven, plotting megalomaniac, interested only in climbing to higher office.
You can blame the media and the political class. The Bible is still warm from the hand of a governor sworn in for a second term when handicapping begins on the next governor's race. It's not just Louisiana. It took less than a news cycle to go from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fielding questions on Benghazi to her fending off speculation that she will run for president in 2016.
Fortunately, for established politicians, it is easier to claim to not be thinking about the next election when they have people around them who are. For Vitter, it is his keen supporter Charlie Spies, a Washington attorney who has formed, as he has for other unthinking pols, a Super PAC, which is set up to raise money for a state or a federal election, whichever the senator gets around to thinking about first.
When and if he does consider the governor's race, Vitter won't have to commission a poll to tell him he would be the early frontrunner. Someone did that for him a few months ago. The polling firm, Magellan Strategies, is owned by the thoughtful John Diez, who sidelines as director of the PAC that Vitter formed to elect Republican state legislators.
Vitter's strength in that poll confirmed the results of an earlier survey commissioned by New Orleans businessman and former gubernatorial candidate John Georges, who also dismisses the thought that he is thinking about the 2015 race.
"Three years from now is not on my radar," he writes in an e-mail to LaPolitics Weekly, adding, "To quote Scarlett O'Hara, 'I'll think about that tomorrow.' "
As with Scarlett's attention, these thoughts come and go to Georges, who, a year ago, was touting his poll that showed him running a close second behind Vitter in a 2015 primary field of multiple Republican candidates and one Democrat, Georges. But those thoughts must have been pushed to the back of his brain by his high-flying business deals. The wholesale grocery magnate, with interests in oil and gas, vending machines and video poker, bought the famed Galatoire's Restaurant in 2009 and recently opened a location in Baton Rouge, where he is in negotiations to purchase The Advocate.
Georges denies that his interest in owning the capital city's daily newspaper has anything to do with politics. Don't even think about it.
Vitter and Georges have nothing on Gov. Bobby Jindal, who can't board an airplane these days without someone asking him about his presidential aspirations. His stock response is that anyone even thinking about running for president at this time "should have his head examined."
But 2014 is another matter. As chairman of the Republican Governors Association, it's his job to travel the land, talking up the GOP brand and GOP governors running for re-election next year, as well as new candidates, including those who aren't even thinking about it yet. The time will come for them to think of him.
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