After months of dodging the talk, Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter said Tuesday that he is considering a run for governor in 2015 and plans to decide by next month.
Vitter told The Associated Press that he is sending an email to supporters Wednesday and is in discussions with his family about the possibility. He said he expects to make his decision by January so he will have time to fundraise, develop a campaign and work on his policy agenda.
"This is the logical time to do it, if I'm ever going to do it," the two-term senator said. "There are strong arguments in either direction, but the general question in my mind is where I think I can make the most positive contribution."
Vitter, 52, would be a formidable candidate and other possible GOP contenders have been waiting for him to announce his intentions before they decide theirs. "I think I'd be a significant candidate, but there are no sure bets in life," he said.
Gov. Bobby Jindal is term-limited, so the governor's race is wide open.
Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne has said he intends to run, along with Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. A list of others are eyeing the position, including Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy.
Vitter's approval ratings are high in Louisiana, and his ability to rake in campaign donations is strong. And he has proved to be a resilient politician, holding elected office for more than two decades as a state and federal lawmaker and easily winning re-election to a second U.S. Senate term in 2010, despite a prostitution scandal.
He admitted to a "serious sin" after phone records linked him to Washington's "D.C. Madam" prostitution case in 2007, but he's never commented further on whether he broke the law, instead saying his family had forgiven him and moved past it.
Voters, too, haven't held the scandal against Vitter, with more than 58 percent giving him good marks in a recent Southern Media and Opinion Research poll about his job performance.
"Should U.S. Sen. David Vitter pursue the (governor's) post, his popularity with Republican voters gives him the advantage over his Republican rivals," pollster Bernie Pinsonat said.
A possible gubernatorial bid is boosted further by a pro-Vitter super PAC formed nearly a year ago that has raised at least $750,000 so far.
Vitter could run for governor in 2015 without forfeiting his current elected position, which isn't up for re-election until 2016.