John Kennedy

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., responds to a reporter's question on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) ORG XMIT: DCAB115

Louisianans, it turns out, won’t get to vote on whether U.S. Sen. John Kennedy stays in Washington or returns to Baton Rouge as governor.

But one person who’s definitely not from Louisiana did get a chance to weigh in, and his preference wasn’t necessarily what you’d expect.

Kennedy, who ended months of speculation Monday when he announced he would not challenge Gov. John Bel Edwards next year, told the Associated Press that none other than President Donald Trump said he hoped Kennedy would stick around the Senate.

In some ways, that’s not so surprising. For the most part, Kennedy has been a staunch supporter of the president. And Trump doesn’t appear too bothered that Edwards is in office, judging by the governor's repeated invitations to events at the White House.

In other ways, it is. Despite Trump’s positive feelings, national Republicans have targeted Edwards, a Democrat leading a reliably Republican state, for defeat. And Kennedy’s departure wouldn’t have cost the party a seat in the Senate, at least not immediately. Under Louisiana law, the governor fills vacancies pending a special election, and given the chance Edwards would surely choose a Democrat. But if Kennedy had run and won, he could have delayed his resignation long enough so that he would have picked his own replacement.

Or maybe Kennedy's overplaying the comment to deflect some of that palpable Republican anger over how he handled this thing. Perhaps Trump was simply trying to flatter a Judiciary Committee member whose vote he needs on divisive nominees, or really doesn't much care who runs Louisiana.  

Not that Trump’s input wound up mattering, at least in Kennedy’s telling. The senator said that he was already leaning strongly against a run by the time the president called. 

"It was ultimately my decision," he said.

Follow Stephanie Grace on Twitter, @stephgracela.