John Kennedy’s folksy witticisms have provided regular headlines for the Washington media. But the Louisiana Republican is already thinking about leaving after just 15 months as a senator.
Kennedy is considering running for governor of Louisiana against Democrat John Bel Edwards, he said in an interview on Thursday, after he addressed the possibility with a home-state radio station, WWL, and a TV station earlier this week.
“Thinking about it. I don’t know if I’m going to do it, haven’t made a decision. I’m enjoying my time in the Senate, but my state’s in trouble,” Kennedy told POLITICO. “I just don’t agree with John Bel. I like John Bel, but he just hasn’t been effective. And I don’t think he has a clean grasp of what we need to do.”
The race wouldn’t occur until 2019 and Kennedy’s term isn’t up until 2022, meaning there would be little risk of him losing his seat even if he‘s defeated for governor. Kennedy has told senators and Louisiana Republicans of his interest in the race for several months, according to people familiar with the matter.
Kennedy is a fixture of Louisiana politics, serving as the state’s treasurer as both a Democrat and as a Republican for 17 years as well as running for the Senate and attorney general. But he’s become a standout in Congress for his quotable speaking style, often holding court with reporters for long and entertaining exchanges.
As he headed home for the weekend, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) stopped to rib Kennedy for his omnipresent media presence: “Quote of the day twice in the New York Times in 15 months in the Senate.”
Indeed, it’s hard to pick the best Kennedy one-liners. This week he made headlines for telling Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that “your user agreement sucks.”
“Our country was founded by geniuses, but it’s being run by idiots,” Kennedy said in January.
“As best I can tell, they’re all held together with spit,” he observed of the Senate’s immigration proposal in February.
And of the Senate’s amendment process, he said last month: “I think it sucks.”
Kennedy admitted he would miss his role as Senate truth-teller should he become governor and emphasized that he‘s undecided on a run. He estimated he will make up his mind by the fall and said he’s told state Republicans interested in the job and not to wait for him.
“It’s been my experience in politics that you can try and plan it out: ‘I’m going to hit the three ball which will hit the eight ball,’” he said, shaking his head. “You’ve just got to go run and try to do everything right. And then have a little luck.”
It doesn’t hurt to be quotable, either.