Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, a Democratic populist who has been in elected office since 1976, is running for the U.S. Senate.

Campbell, of Bossier Parish, announced Thursday his run, sort of, on “The Jim Engster Show,” a statewide radio program that focuses on politics. But his aide, Bill Robertson, formalized the bid Friday by saying he was authorized to say Campbell would be a candidate.

Campbell, who came in fourth in the 2007 governor’s race, would be the second Democrat seeking to replace U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-Metairie. After losing in November to Democrat John Bel Edwards in the governor’s race, Vitter announced he wouldn’t seek re-election this year.

Campbell, who worked hard in Edwards’ campaign, seems to have the backing of the governor. “I think Foster Campbell would make a great candidate. I was encouraging him to run,” Edwards told reporters during a news conference Friday.

New Orleans lawyer Caroline Fayard earlier this month became the first Democrat to enter the race for Louisiana’s open U.S. Senate seat. Several Republicans, including state Treasurer John Kennedy and U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany and John Fleming, have entered the race, as well as retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness.

The election is scheduled for Nov. 8, with a Dec. 3 runoff, if needed.

Engster asked Campbell, who was a guest on his show, if he was running for the Senate.

Campbell responded, “Yes, I am seriously considering it.” It was an answer he had given before.

Engster tried again.

“What I will tell you today, I am making preparations to run for the U.S. Senate everywhere I go,” Campbell said.

He then went on to discuss his 13 years as a utility regulator, elected from the conservative north Louisiana, and the 26 years he had served in the state Senate, where his legislation created a billion-dollar trust fund for handling the money Big Tobacco pays each year in the settlement of a class-action lawsuit.

“A lot of folks probably don’t like my politics. There are a lot who do. I have been a fighter, unequivocal,” Campbell said.

Campbell said he supported making oil companies pay for the damage they allegedly caused searching for and producing oil and natural gas in Louisiana’s coastal areas. Louisiana legislators passed a bill retroactively negating a lawsuit filed by a levee district seeking damages from oil companies.

“The politicians have danced all around on this. But they have let the oil companies get away with murder. When they tear up something, they should fix it,” Campbell said.

At least two Republicans on the five-member Public Service Commission are rumored to also be interested in the Senate race: Scott Angelle, of Breaux Bridge, and Eric Skrmetta, of Metairie.

Elizabeth Crisp of The Advocate Capitol news bureau contributed to this report.

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