By Eli Yokley
Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter will face John Bel Edwards, a Democratic state legislator, in a runoff to become Louisiana's next governor, The Associated Press projects.
With 72 percent of the vote recorded Saturday in Louisiana's open primary, Edwards had 38 percent of the vote to Vitter's 24 percent when the AP called the race. The two other Republicans _ Lieutenant Gov. Jay Dardenne and Scott Angelle, a member of the state's utility regulating commission _ trailed with 15 percent and 21 percent of the vote, respectively.
The two will face off in a Nov. 21 runoff that will select the man who will replace Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is term-limited.
The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rates the race Republican Favored. But some recent polls have shown Edwards ahead of Vitter in a head-to-head matchup.
Although Louisiana has become more red each year, the campaign took a toll on Vitter's popularity, as the powerful Republican who was seen by his rivals as the one to beat withstood serious blows, including some involving his 2007 prostitution scandal, as recently as a debate on Wednesday.
When the head-to-head matchup was first polled in February 2014, Vitter led Edwards, 50 percent to 32 percent.
Louisiana Republicans _ including Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., Rep. John Fleming and state Treasurer John Kennedy _ have already begun filling out applications to run for Vitter's seat in the Senate in the event that he is successful next month. If he wins, Vitter would be able to appoint his replacement _ potentially giving the gift of incumbency to a successor.
Even before the Republican versus Democrat direct match up, the Washington, D.C.-based Republican Governors Association had already began attacking Edwards as an "Obama liberal." But, with Vitter damaged from the initial contest, national Democrats are likely to now get involved, too.