Wendy Vitter, wife of outgoing Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter, is reported to be under “serious consideration” by Louisiana's congressional delegation to become the next U.S. attorney in New Orleans.
Vitter, the general counsel for the Archdiocese of New Orleans and a former top prosecutor for the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office, could potentially be in the top tier of candidates vying for federal appointments as President-elect Donald Trump begins filling out his administration.
However, she is not the only one eyeing a spot now that Republicans have returned to power, and several others have been rumored to be in the running to be the top prosecutor for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
A knowledgeable source active in Louisiana Republican politics said Friday that Vitter is under “serious consideration” by the state’s delegation in Washington, D.C., to replace U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite, an appointee of President Barack Obama, once the new administration takes office.
Both Wendy and David Vitter said Friday they had not had discussions about a possible appointment.
Asked whether she is in the running, Wendy Vitter initially said she had no comment. She later said she has not been contacted by anyone about the position.
Her husband said, “I have not talked to anyone about the U.S. attorney position.”
Other names have been floated as well, including Trump’s Louisiana campaign co-chairman, Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta, who is an attorney and mediator.
Former Jefferson Parish President John Young — who previously worked as an assistant district attorney in Jefferson Parish and served as the office’s chief administrative officer — is also said to be looking at the position.
Peter Strasser, a former assistant U.S. attorney in New Orleans and now a partner with the Chaffe McCall law firm, also has been mentioned as being interested in the opening.
The online political newsletter LaPolitics on Friday also reported rumors that Wendy Vitter and former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten might be seeking appointment to openings on the federal bench in New Orleans.
U.S. attorneys serve four-year terms and are typically replaced when a new party wins the White House. That decision falls to the incoming administration, though typically senators from the new president's party play a large role in choosing who will be appointed. In part, that’s an acknowledgment that the Senate has to ratify the nominations.
Though her husband will no longer be in the Senate next year, Vitter could still be in a strong position politically.
Both U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy and Republican senatorial candidate John Kennedy, who is in the Dec. 10 runoff to replace David Vitter, are allies of the outgoing senator. Both received significant organizational and political support from Vitter in the past two years in their Senate bids.
Vitter also backed the president-elect, though his first public statement of support — a joint letter with other Republican officials — came only after Trump sewed up the party's nomination in May.
Whether Trump will follow the tradition of looking to senators for guidance on naming U.S. attorneys is an open question. Given reports of the high value he places on loyalty, Trump could potentially turn to Skrmetta, who backed him early in his run.
Louisiana GOP Chairman Roger Villere said he also had heard Wendy Vitter is interested in the U.S. attorney's position, though he said he had not spoken to either her or her husband about it.
With the Trump team still working to fill cabinet posts, Villere predicted it would be some time before their focus turns to lesser appointments, such as U.S. attorneys and judges.
Given the early status of the process, “I think people are still looking and talking” about possible selections, he said.