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WASHINGTON, Jan 21 (Reuters) - U.S. Senator David Vitter announced on Tuesday he plans to run for governor of Louisiana in 2015, saying that he thinks he can help the people of his state more from the governor's office than from Capitol Hill.
"I believe that as our next governor, I can have a bigger impact addressing the unique challenges and opportunities that we face in Louisiana - helping us fully reach our full potential," the conservative Republican said in a YouTube video announcing his candidacy.
Vitter is serving his second six-year Senate term, which expires in 2016. Democrats control the chamber 55 to 45, and Vitter's departure is unlikely to affect that balance.
Vitter said he has been preparing for his gubernatorial run with a series of town halls and other meetings across the state and will continue listening to Louisiana families.
"This will be my last political job, elected or appointed, period," he said. "So my only agenda will be to do what's best for all Louisianians."
Vitter weathered a sex scandal during his first term and won re-election in 2010. In 2007, he admitted to "a very serious sin" and apologized after he was linked to a Washington escort service.
Vitter's phone number was found five times in phone records dating from 1999 to 2001 for "D.C. Madam" Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who is accused of running a prostitution ring in Washington, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported at the time. Palfrey has said she operated a legal escort service.
Vitter said at the time he and his wife confronted the issue and sought marriage counseling. He accused enemies of dredging up the scandal to hurt him.
The allegations stunned many in Louisiana because Vitter, a Harvard graduate and Rhodes scholar, was a highly visible social conservative who championed family values and ardently opposed abortion and gay marriage.
He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1999 after winning a special election to replace Representative Bob Livingston, who had resigned in a sex scandal. (Reporting by David Lawder and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Amanda Kwan)