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Louisiana: Vitter Touched by Fallout From Ensign

Sen. John Ensign’s (R-Nev.) admission this week of an extramarital affair quickly had some Louisiana political insiders wondering how the scandal might affect Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), whose own marital issues captured headlines two summers ago.

In July 2007, Vitter found himself ensnared in the “D.C. Madam— prostitution scandal, and some Bayou State Democrats on Wednesday went to work using the Ensign scandal to remind voters of Vitter’s own scandal publicity.

In light of Ensign’s decision to step down from his leadership position on Wednesday, the Louisiana Democratic Party put out a news release calling on Vitter to step down from his post as Deputy Whip of the Senate Republican Conference.

“Every time something like this happens in the Republican Party, it stirs up Sen. Vitter’s serious sin regarding the D.C. Madam,— state Democratic Party Chairman Chris Whittington said.

But Louisiana pollster Bernie Pinsonat wasn’t so sure.

“I don’t think this will help or hurt Vitter,— Pinsonat said. “If anything, it leans towards helping him because … the more this stuff happens the more it becomes ho-hum. You can’t say it’s just David Vitter. … It happens so often, I don’t think it’s as stunning an event as it was 15 years ago.—

Since weathering his own negative publicity storm, Vitter has been working to shore up his support among his family values and fiscally conservative base. Talk of a serious primary challenge has died down since the beginning of the cycle, but Rep. Charlie Melancon’s (D-La.) name continues to be batted about for the general election.

“Sen. Vitter continues to travel around the state reaching out to constituents over their concerns about card check’ and putting an end to the ongoing [President Barack] Obama bailout mania,— Vitter spokesman Joel DiGrado said.

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