For a politician who was never particularly popular with his peers, David Vitter had some of the longest political coattails in memory.
Before his superficially mighty gubernatorial bid collapsed in 2015, Vitter played a major role in giving the GOP a long-sought majority in the Louisiana Legislature and in helping fellow Republican Bill Cassidy oust his senior Senate colleague, Democrat Mary Landrieu. As he was finishing out his final year in the Senate, Vitter and his associates helped three new members of Congress from Louisiana, House members Mike Johnson and Clay Higgins and U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, get to Washington.
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Even now, a year after he left public office following a cumulative quarter century in the Legislature, U.S. House and U.S. Senate, those coattails appear intact, not just in the electoral arena but in the judiciary.
Kurt Engelhardt, the onetime Vitter campaign treasurer who snagged a seat on the Louisiana's Eastern District bench with the then-congressman's support soon afterward, is now up for a coveted seat on the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. And this week President Donald Trump formally nominated Vitter's wife Wendy, a former prosecutor with Orleans Parish District Attorney Harry Connick and current general counsel for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, for a federal district judgeship. Wendy Vitter won the nod over two other candidates with somewhat more traditional backgrounds for the job, but she apparently has the support of both Cassidy and Kennedy, which is what really matters here.
Call it a thank you to David Vitter, or call it business as usual in a system in which who you know often counts as much as what you've done. In either case, if Engelhardt and Wendy Vitter win Senate confirmation, they'll have their jobs for as long as they want them. And no matter what happens to the politicians he helped elect, David Vitter's influence will live on just as long.