Sept. 9, 2009 05:00
The Melancon/Vitter main event is now set — or is it? The long expected entry of U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon into the U.S. Senate race as a challenger to David Vitter finally occurred last week — almost one month after Vitter started attacking him publicly by name.
 
Melancon came out swinging on his own in his announcement, talking about how “Louisiana deserved better” than someone like Vitter, while mentioning his 37 years of marriage to wife Peachy, a passing reminder to the 2007 Vitter prostitute scandal. Melancon followed with a left hook to the mid-section of Vitter, talking about Louisiana having many challenges and needing an effective senator — then quickly pointing out the fact that Vitter was ranked by Roll Call newspaper as the 85th (out of 100) least effective senator in D.C. And this is just during the weigh in, folks; we aren’t even to Round 1 yet. Think the original Rocky movie.
 
This one will be a 15-round slugfest. Vitter will early and often attempt to link the moderate Blue Dog Melancon to President Obama on issues such as health care (even though Melancon was one of a few Democrats who voted against the bill in Congress recently). Aside from Vitter’s personal indiscretions, Melancon will hammer Vitter on his ineffectiveness and inability to even work with other Republicans to accomplish goals that benefit Louisiana. (Vitter’s nickname in the Bush White House was “Congressman Vitter” due to his lack of adherence to senatorial tradition on issues such as compromise and cooperation.)
 
But before the opening bell rang, a larger threat appeared to be looming for Vitter — that of not only one potential Republican challenger, but two, in the primary. Secretary of State Jay Dardenne has not ruled out a challenge to Vitter, but the real shocker was Republican insiders and some media sources, including BayouBuzz.com, speculating that retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, largely credited with helping rescue New Orleans from Katrina after federal troops finally arrived, was strongly considering a challenge to Vitter. A black, Republican retired Army general considered a hero in New Orleans is the last thing Vitter would want to confront in the primary. No worries, says the general. 
 
“I am not running for office, just moving back home to La,” Honore writes in a Sept. 1 e-mail response to Independent Weekly reporter Nathan Stubbs. “This rumor got out without me knowing were it [came] from,” he continues. “I spoke to the [BayouBuzz] folks, and they now know I have not been talking to the person that gave them that info.”

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