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Dardenne Won’t Challenge Vitter

Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne on Tuesday announced that he will not challenge Sen. David Vitter in the GOP primary this fall, ending months of speculation about the possibility of a high-profile intraparty fight 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 told local news outlets that he was considering polling in the race. But Dardenne appeared supportive of Vitter’s re-election in his statement Tuesday.

“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 race against Rep. Charlie Melancon (D).

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

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