COLUMNS

WRITER'S BLOCK: Stormy times ahead for Vitter

Michael Tortorich
Michael Tortorich is a reporter for The Gonzales Weekly Citizen. He can be reached at reporter1 @ weeklycitizen.com.

Louisiana junior United States Sen. David Vitter, a Republican currently serving his first term, may have his work cut out for him when he runs for re-election next year.

For a state with a storied history of colorful politics, early indications show the upcoming election season may be an interesting one.

An Internet-based campaign has been bubbling under lately to thrust porn star Stormy Daniels, a 29-year-old Baton Rouge native, into the race.

The “Draft Stormy” campaign, started by University of New Orleans student Zach Hudson, was largely ignored at first as merely a publicity stunt. But the campaign really took off when the likes of CNN, MSNBC and other media outlets took notice.

Even LSU’s student newspaper, The Daily Reveille, jumped on the bandwagon, pointing out the “tendency in the state to support larger-than-life figures.”

The campaign has gone viral, propelled by the Web site DraftStormy.com, the Facebook group and YouTube channel, among others.

Louisiana Republican Party spokesperson Aaron Baer has dismissed the campaign as a publicity stunt.

The move is reminiscent of the 2003 California recall election, in which 135 candidates qualified for the ballot. Those candidates came from all walks of life, including pornographer Larry Flynt, porn star Mary Carey and former child actor Gary Coleman. Arnold Schwarzenegger, known primarily as an action movie star, ended up winning the election with nearly 49 percent of the vote.

Daniels, who has worked as an actress, writer, director and dancer, has said she doubts she will actually run against Vitter, but she plans to use the publicity as a springboard to going on a “listening tour” around Louisiana.

Vitter has made a name for himself politically as a staunch conservative. A quick glance at his stance on various issues hammers home the conservative tag.

Despite his squeaky-clean image, he still harbors some skeletons in his closet. Vitter made headlines in 2007 after he was linked to Deborah Palfrey, the so-called “D.C. Madam” who was convicted of operating a prostitution ring and later committed suicide.

He was not charged in the case, but his phone number surfaced during an investigation of the service.

Vitter admitted to a “very serious sin” and claimed responsibility in July 2007. He claimed he asked for and received forgiveness from God and his wife.

Since the public apology, Vitter has refused to answer any questions about it. In one infamous episode, Vitter  walked out on reporters in Gonzales when the subject came up. He was photographed leaving in a car that backed into a stop sign outside of the city hall. Despite the visible damage to the car and the stop sign, he rode off from the scene.

“I don’t see how I could possibly embarrass him more than he’s embarrassed himself,” Daniels said in a CNN interview.

The “Draft Stormy” campaign may be a nice diversion for voters, and a listening tour may prove beneficial, but a formidable challenger with adequate political experience to knock off Vitter has yet to be found.

If anything, the Daniels campaign has drawn attention to Vitter as he works toward another term.

Only time will tell who else will throw their hat in to the race, and if they have what it takes to take Vitter’s seat.

With all due respect to Daniels, when a legitimate candidate comes along, she will be back to her day job.