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Dardenne Will Not Primary Vitter

Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne (R) on Tuesday announced that he will not challenge Sen. David Vitter (R) for the Republican Senate nomination this fall, ending months of speculation about the possibility of a high profile GOP primary in the Bayou State.

“After much consideration, I have decided not to seek the U.S. Senate seat this year,” Dardenne said in a statement. “My family and I thank the many Louisianians who have encouraged me to run, but I believe my role is to serve the people here in Baton Rouge rather than in Washington.”

The popular Dardenne was being closely watched as a potential primary challenger to Vitter and as recently as early December he told local news outlets that he was considering polling in the race. Some race watchers speculated that Dardenne could take advantage of the disenchantment voters felt with Vitter in the wake of the Senator’s involvement in high profile prostitution scandal in 2007.

Dardenne said in his statement that he has been in contact with Vitter.

“I have spoken to Sen. Vitter and encouraged him to continue fighting for fiscal responsibility and common sense in our nation’s capital.,” Dardenne said.

With the possibility of a serious GOP challenge off the table Vitter won’t have to worry about bleeding away resources in the primary before his general election matchup against Rep. Charlie Melancon (D).

Vitter raised about $1.2 million for his 2010 re-election effort in the fourth quarter and will report about $4.5 million in his campaign account at the end of December.

CQ Politics rates the general election race as Leans Republican.

*To see how all the 2010 Senate races are shaping up, check out the CQ Politics election map.*

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