Sen. David Vitter lost by a good margin to Democrat John Bel Edwards in yesterday's election for Louisiana Governor, and has also announced that he will not be seeking re-election for the US Senate. I wouldn't necessarily say that this makes the LA Sen. match a nice possible pick-up for Dems, because Vitter's losing last night has an awful lot to do with David Vitter.
A lot of people might point back to the infamous D.C. Madam scandal, that left many with an uncomfortable mental image after rumors (not exactly corroborated, and not exactly not corroborated, you know) suggested that Vitter was fond of adult baby/diaper fetish play. But that didn't sink him in the 2010 election for Senate. If personal scandal was what scuttled Vitter's chances, the somewhat dodgy claim that he had a mistress whom he impregnated and then advised to get an abortion (not a very sympathetic story in heavily pro-life Louisiana) could be a bigger factor as a sort of October Surprise. (Although a similar story regarding U.S. Rep. Scott Desjarlais never bit him in the ass in equally pro-life Tennessee.)
So what really hammered in the last nail in Vitter's political coffin? I'm going to go with a persistent attitude of shadiness. Campaign finance shadiness. Endorsement-seeking shadiness. Just plain all-around shadiness. Even his last-minute Hail Mary leap onto the anti-Syrian refugee bandwagon was done in a particularly shady way, claiming a refugee settled in Louisiana had "gone missing" when he in fact just moved and made whatever notifications had to be made through normal channels.
So, he practically "swatted" a guy to try to finagle slightly better polling just ahead of an election. Yeah. Shady.
But then there's LA Gov. Bobby Jindal. You could say that Jindal's performance as Governor already wasn't doing a prospective Republican candidate any favors (only KS Gov. Brownback is more generally hated by folks in his own state). But WP's David Weigel suggests that Jindal timed his exit from the GOP presidential primary to "bigfoot" all over any last minute publicity Vitter meant to generate. (If so, I can honestly say something good came out of the Jindal presidential campaign.)
Governor-elect Edwards seems like a good guy, and I hope he turns things around in Louisiana. But were it not for Vitter's awfulness, I have no reason to think a generic Republican without Vitter's negatives would have lost.