Scott Angelle looks at U.S. Senate race, will anounce his decision after holidays _lowres

Congressional candidate Scott Angelle, R-Breaux Bridge.

Scott Angelle, who scored a strong third in the governor’s race, said Monday he’s considering a run for the U.S. Senate, and will announce a decision after the holidays.

Angelle’s first public comments about his political future come after an independent poll released this week show him with significant leads over likely Republican opponents.

He’s seen the poll, along with other surveys, that show similar results. While the polls won’t drive his decision, Angelle said, they have prompted supporters to phone.

“I’ve received a lot of encouragement from around the state to run for the U.S. Senate,” Angelle told The Advocate in an interview. “I’m going look at opportunities to serve Louisiana.”

U.S. Sen. David Vitter, a Metairie Republican, announced his plans not to seek re-election after losing to Democrat John Bel Edwards in the Nov. 21 gubernatorial runoff, setting off a scramble for his seat.

The Senate election is Nov. 8, 2016, with a runoff, if necessary, on Dec. 3.

Angelle spoke a couple of hours before fellow Republican, U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, of Lafayette, officially announced his bid for the office. Boustany actively backed Vitter over Angelle in the governor’s race.

Another official elected from southwest Louisiana, Democratic state Sen. Eric LaFleur, of Ville Platte, also said Monday that he is looking seriously at the race. “I’ve been in the process of looking at this for few weeks,” LaFleur said, adding that he has three small children — the oldest is 7 — to consider.

U.S. Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden, announced his intentions last week in a three-minute video.

Retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness filed his official federal paperwork earlier this month. He announced Monday that 55 tea party leaders from around the state have personally endorsed his run.

Angelle, who is from Breaux Bridge, started out the governor’s race polling less than 2 percent, but came within 41,000 votes, out of 1.1 million cast Oct. 24, of beating Vitter for a slot in the November runoff.

His strong showing in the gubernatorial election made his name well-known statewide. A Market Research Insight poll found that surveyed voters gave Angelle “a definite advantage” when pitted against fellow Republicans Boustany, Fleming and state Treasurer John N. Kennedy.

Angelle’s name was recognized by 88 percent of the voters statewide and 52 percent had a favorable impression of him. Boustany was known to 68 percent of the voters, of whom 35 percent viewed him favorably. Fleming had a 58 percent recognition factor and 24 percent viewed him favorably. Kennedy was known bby 86 percent of those polled and had 56 percent favorable rating.

But in a head-to-head race, if held today, Angelle was preferred by 24 percent of the respondents while Boustany and Kennedy each polled 15 percent. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu was used as the sole Democratic candidate.

The survey of 600 likely voters questioned Dec. 2 to Dec. 4 also found that either Angelle, Boustany or Kennedy, whoever made the runoff against the Democratic candidate, would likely win “providing no candidate attacks the others like Vitter did in the governor’s race.”

The poll was funded by a group of New Orleans businessmen, including John Georges, a co-owner of The Advocate. It had a 4.1 percent margin of error at a .95 level of confidence.

The Gulf Breeze, Florida, firm that conducted the poll was the first to chart Angelle’s rise in the gubernatorial race.

Kennedy, who also is waiting until after the holidays to make an announcement, led in a poll that his supporters commissioned and released last week.

Angelle is the third member of the Public Service Commission to express interest in the Senate seat. The five-member PSC regulates utility rates and trucking in Louisiana.

PSC Commissioner Eric Skrmetta, R-Metairie, posted a letter on his Facebook page announcing that he would form an exploratory committee, saying, “Louisiana deserves conservative representation and leadership.”

Commissioner Foster Campbell, a Democrat from Bossier Parish, said last week he was looking at the race, too.

Two Jefferson Parish Republicans — President John Young and former Congressman Joseph Cao, of Harvey — also are rumored to be looking at the race.

Follow Mark Ballard on Twitter, @MarkBallardCNB. For more coverage of government and politics, follow our Politics Blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog.