NEW ORLEANS - Louisiana-born porn star Stormy Daniels announced Thursday that she will not run for U.S. Senate in her home state, ending a yearlong flirtation with politics that began as Republican incumbent Sen. David Vitter was working to overcome a sex scandal.
In an e-mailed statement, Daniels said she cannot afford a run for the Senate and, comparing herself to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, complained that the media never took her interest in the race seriously.
"To begin with, like Governor Palin, I have become a target of the cynical stalwarts of the status quo," Daniels said. "Simply because I did not fit in their mold of what an independent working woman should be, the media and political elite have sought to relegate my sense of civic responsibility to mere sideshow antics."
Daniels recently declared herself a convert to the GOP with a press release making light of news that the Republican National Committee had picked up a nearly $2,000 tab at a sex-themed California nightclub. But her political publicity has been handled by Democratic operative Brian Welsh.
If nothing else, a Daniels campaign for the Republican nomination would have been a constant reminder of the 2007 scandal that broke when Vitter's phone number appeared in the records of a Washington prostitution ring. Other than admitting a "serious sin," he has steadfastly refused to discuss the matter.
Meanwhile, his political career seems to have survived intact. He has raised plenty of campaign money while bashing the policies of President Barack Obama, who is not popular in the state.
At the end of last year, Vitter had about $4.5 million in campaign cash, compared with about $2 million for his Democratic rival, U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon. Updated campaign finance reports for the first quarter of this year were due Thursday at the Federal Election Commission. The Vitter campaign released a summary of the latest report showing more than $5 million on hand as of March 31, with $1.1 million raised and more than $618,000 spent during the quarter.
Vitter may yet gain another well-known rival because former Republican state legislator James David Cain has said he may enter the race as an independent. Vitter so far has no major opposition in the GOP primary.
Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford) said during a listening tour last spring that she decided to explore a possible campaign after fans tried to draft her in light of Vitter's troubles.
"I completely ignored the whole thing for a while, and then I just got so much encouragement and feedback that I thought at the very least I owe it to myself and to the people to come out and see what they have to say," Daniels said at the time.
An exploratory committee incorporated last year solicited funds through the Web site TeamStormy.com, but because Daniels never became a candidate, she was not required to report finances to the FEC.
The TeamStormy site has not been updated in months, nor have there been any posts on the TeamStormy Twitter account as of midday Thursday. On another Twitter site, Daniels has made no mention of the possible campaign, but has continued to promote her adult films and personal appearances -- including one this week in Raleigh, N.C.
Her political story took a bizarre turn last summer when she was arrested on a domestic violence battery charge after she allegedly hit her husband at their home in Tampa, Fla., during a dispute about laundry and unpaid bills. Charges later were dropped.
Her arrest came two days after Welsh, the Democratic operative, said his parked 1996 Audi was damaged by fire outside his apartment in an upscale downtown area of New Orleans. She didn't say much about her campaign after that until her announcement earlier this month that she was becoming a Republican.
Daniels accused Vitter of financing his campaign with special interest money but said she still might support him if he goes along with her proposal to abolish the Internal Revenue Service and the federal income tax in favor of a "fair tax" plan that includes a national sales tax.