Former U.S. Sen. John Breaux said he will run for Louisiana governor if the state attorney general determines he meets the legal requirements to enter the race.
The Democratic former senator is considered a strong possible contender in the Oct. 20 primary, and other potential Democratic candidates are waiting in the wings, saying they won't run if Breaux does. Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, announced earlier this week she won't seek a second term, leaving the position wide open.
Breaux said he would give up his lobbying job in Washington, D.C., and begin campaigning if the state attorney general determines he meets residency requirements to run.
"I could stay here and live a very good life, but this is my last opportunity to be helpful to our state through public service," Breaux told The Associated Press on Friday by telephone from the Washington area.
Republicans have raised questions about whether Breaux can be a legal candidate in Louisiana. To be eligible to run for a statewide elected office, the state Constitution requires that a person be a "citizen" of the state for "at least the preceding five years."
Breaux is registered to vote in Maryland and lists his primary address there, about 70 miles from Washington, where he works for Patton Boggs LLP, a lobbying firm. Republicans say that disqualifies him from running for Louisiana governor.
State Rep. Eric LaFleur, chairman of the Louisiana House Democratic Caucus, said he will ask for the legal opinion from Attorney General Charles Foti on whether Breaux could legally run for governor. Foti also is a Democrat.
As a private citizen, Breaux does not have standing to make the request for an attorney general's opinion, but LaFleur can and said he will file his request with Foti's office next week. It's unclear how long it would take for Foti's office to issue a ruling.
"I would hope they'll have an opportunity to get a quick turnaround," Breaux said. "I'm going to wait until we get that ruling, and I will plan accordingly."
Breaux said he's aware that he would face tough attacks from Republicans but wants to be governor so he can help Louisiana recover from the 2005 hurricanes.
The state Republican Party already has begun running anti-Breaux ads, complaining that he is an outsider and isn't qualified to run in Louisiana.