NEW ORLEANS -- The race is more than a year away, but Sen. David Vitter made it official Tuesday. He is a candidate for Louisiana governor.
Vitter made the announcement on his campaign website.
"After much thought, prayer and discussion with Wendy and our children, I've decided to run for governor of Louisiana in 2015," said Vitter. "I believe as our next governor, I can have a bigger impact addressing the unique challenges and opportunities we face in Louisiana, helping us to truly reach our full potential."
Vitter said improving K-12 and higher education, economic development and tax and budget reform are among his top priorities.
"Although an active campaign is still a year away, I'll start preparing for it immediately by doing what I've always done, including as our U.S. Senator, that listening to you, knowing that I sure don't have all the answers," said Vitter.
WWL-TV Political Analyst Clancy DuBos said Vitter's early entry could dissuade some republicans from joining the field of candidates.
"By possibly cutting off or reducing their access to campaign funds," said DuBos. "I think there will be other major republicans in the race, but I don't think it will be nearly as crowded as it might have been if he were not running for example."
Pollster and Xavier Political Science Professor Dr. Silas Lee said Vitter's announcement won't clear the deck of other major candidates.
"I do not expect this to be a coronation for Senator Vitter," said Lee. "I'm quite sure some others are going to look at it and say lets see if he can really generate appeals statewide."
Louisiana's senior Sen. Mary Landrieu spoke about Vitter's announcement during a public appearance in New Orleans.
"I would just say as the people decide on their next governor, that it should be someone that really has the people's interest of the state at heart and less maybe advancing their own political agendas and more interest in advancing the economic agenda of this state," Landrieu said.
Dr. Lee said to win, Vitter will have to build coalitions and broaden his appeal beyond hardcore republicans.
"That's going to be critical, regardless of party lines, regardless of ideology, regardless of raising social-economic demographics," said Lee.
Vitter may also have to fully explain his involvement in a Washington, DC call girl scandal.
"This could be the first time David Vitter really has to answer for his past sins, if you will," said DuBos. "He'll probably say, look I've already addressed that. Although for a lot of people and in the opinion of a lot of people, he has not really sat down and come clean."
Louisiana Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne is the only other announced governor candidate on the republican side.
"Senator Vitter's announcement was expected," said Dardenne. "It is my hope that the governor's race will offer Louisianians the opportunity to compare and contrast the records of all the candidates, as well as the merits of their ideas to keep our state growing."
State Treasurer John Kennedy is also considering a run along with Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle.
State Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite and chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, is also a candidate for governor.
"Based upon his two decades as a politician in both Baton Rouge and Washington, it is clear that Senator Vitter has excelled at two things, obstruction and division," Edwards said. "That might work in a do nothing Congress, but it cannot take us where we need to go in Louisiana."
Vitter said governor would be the last public office he ever holds. He does not have to give up his senate seat to run. His current term expires in 2016.