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Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Former Louisiana senator considers gubernatorial bid

Former Louisiana Sen. John Breaux is actively considering a gubernatorial bid.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Less than 24 hours after Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco announced she would not seek a second term, former Sen. John Breaux acknowledged Wednesday that he is seriously considering running for the state's top elected office.

"Now that Governor Blanco has made her decision, I am spending time with my family while seriously evaluating what is best for Louisiana, and determining whether I can be helpful for the State as a candidate for Governor," Breaux said in a statement released this morning. "I expect to announce my intention in the near future and want to sincerely thank all the people who have offered their advice and support."

Breaux, a Democrat who represented Louisiana in Congress from 1973 until 2005, is in a better position than Blanco in helping Democrats retain control of the governor's mansion this fall, said Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report.

"He shakes up the race and dramatically improves the Democrats' chances of holding the governorship," Rothenberg said.

Democrats had been nervous about Blanco's prospects for re-election, after a Southern Media & Opinion Research Poll in January showed her trailing her chief Republican rival, Rep. Bobby Jindal, by 24 points in a head-to-head match up.

Blanco had come under fire for her handling of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent recovery and rebuilding efforts in New Orleans.

"I am choosing to do what I believe is best for my state," the Democratic governor said in a letter to her staff. "I believe there is nothing more important to Louisiana's future than a strong recovery, free from politics."

Blanco delivered a short, live address Tuesday night to announce her plans to forgo a campaign for a second term.

Breaux, who retired two years ago, is a senior counsel at Patton Boggs, a Washington, D.C. law firm. Louisiana Republicans charge that Breaux no longer qualifies as a Louisiana resident because he lives in Maryland.

"John Breaux is a proven leader and a champion for the people of Louisiana and the entire Gulf Coast," said Donna Brazile, a Democratic strategist and Louisiana native. "For over 30 years on Capitol Hill, Senator John Breaux served the people of Louisiana and has significant political capitol on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. The people of Louisiana need someone of his stature and professional competence to help navigate the state through its recovery.

"If Breaux is able to put this residency issue behind him, I believe Louisianians of all political stripes and flavors will rally behind him and support his candidacy," added Brazile, who also is a CNN contributor.

-- CNN Political Editor Mark Preston
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