After speaking to some Louisiana sheriffs personally and texting even more, U.S. Sen. David Vitter was unable to convince enough of them to issue an early endorsement for his gubernatorial campaign during their recent annual convention in Shreveport.
A text message from Vitter obtained by LaPolitics—and confirmed as authentic by the Vitter campaign—suggested to sheriffs that waiting to endorse, rather than officially backing him this week, would be a poor choice.
“A later endorsement would be much, much less significant and helpful,” Vitter wrote in the text.
Elected members who attended the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association gathering said Vitter pushed the idea hard, only to garner support from a handful of sheriffs. For an early endorsement from the association, sheriffs would have had to carve out a temporary exception to a new bylaw passed in February that prohibits endorsements prior to the end of qualifying.
The sheriffs historically have endorsed a candidate in statewide races during the summer, or in some instances earlier. But following last year’s contentious backing of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who ultimately lost her seat to Sen. Bill Cassidy, they decided a change was needed.
Some sheriffs interviewed—seeking to avoid the race for now with cover from the new bylaw—say privately they felt Vitter was trying to force their hand, even though a few said they would end up supporting him anyhow.
The state’s sheriffs will likely meet again in Baton Rouge some time after qualifying in September to discuss the endorsement topic again and, possibly, to vote on a candidate to back.