Long before she made international headlines over an alleged extramarital affair and financial settlement with President Donald J. Trump, Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress, gave another Republican politician headaches – a little closer to home.
In 2009, the Baton Rouge native, well-known in her industry, was considering running to represent Louisiana in the United State Senate. The incumbent senator, David Vitter, was in the midst of a political comeback after he had publicly admitted to being a client of the infamous “D.C. Madam” two years earlier.
Despite the very public scandal, Vitter was still a formidable candidate, holding off most major challengers. The one major Republican who dared to run against Vitter, former Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Chet Traylor, was quickly embroiled in allegations over his own private life, and his campaign floundered.
From the depleted Democratic field, Congressman Charlie Melancon of Napoleonville emerged, but was at a major disadvantage.
Around February, speculation began circulating about the candidacy of Daniels, amid a “Draft Stormy” movement launched by a few overzealous political science students looking for an adult entertainer to run against Vitter. Their strategy was that Daniels’ mere presence in the race would draw more attention to the Senator’s extramarital activities.
Daniels flattered by the attention, began speaking publicly to reporters, while the Louisiana Democratic Party began publicly distancing themselves from the efforts. Daniels for her part, maintained that she wanted Hustler publisher Larry Flynt to manage her campaign.
Vitter’s office declined to comment on any of the developments concerning Daniels, but Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) head of Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee said, “he (Vitter) is working very hard and going to be very well prepared for whatever comes at him.”
Most seasoned politicos laughed at the possibly of a Daniels’ candidacy, while an LSU political science professor told the Times-Picayune, ”if Jesse Ventura can win in Minnesota, why can’t she win in Louisiana?”
Daniels, however, did not identify herself with any political party and realizing how Vitter’s allies could spin her candidacy said, “I wouldn’t want to inadvertently help the person I am trying to stop.”
Daniels’ candidacy was the subject of national attention, even earning a mention in Jay Leno’s Tonight Show monologue and providing fodder for other comedians and journalists.
As springtime started, Daniels embarked on a “listening tour” traveling around the state and talking to potential voters. Refusing to join a political party, she publicly stated her political positions: opposition to the Obama Administration’s economic stimulus, elimination of income taxes in favor of a national sales tax, and support for ending the war in Iraq.
Daniels told reporters that her campaign slogan was, “Stormy Daniels: Screwing People Honestly.”
In July, the car of Daniels’ campaign manager, Brian Welsh, was fire-bombed outside of his apartment in New Orleans. To this day, a culprit has not been identified. “Clearly, if someone tried to blow up my car, it’s cause for concern; it’s not cause for me to stop doing my job, stop me from talking about the things that are important,” Welsh said the night of the bombing.
Later that week, Daniels herself was arrested in Florida on domestic violence charges. Daniels’ husband at the time told police that they got into an altercation over unpaid bills and laundry.
However, while talking about running for the Senate from Louisiana, Daniels continued to make her home in Tampa, Florida and star in adult films. Most Louisiana political observers chalked the campaign up to a publicity stunt rather than a political statement.
While it provided interesting humor for comedy writers and scorn from editorialists, Daniels’ candidacy didn’t gain much traction and she announced in April of 2010, that she would not run, citing business concerns while continuing to attack what she saw as Vitter’s hypocrisy and sexism in politics.
Most political reporters thought they wouldn’t hear her name again.
Boy, were they wrong.
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