Sen. John Breaux, the Louisiana Democrat with a reputation of working well with his moderate counterparts in the Republican Party, announced Thursday he would be not run for governor of his state, a seat for which observers said he would be a shoo-in.

For months, Breaux had held back on a decision to run for the governorship, which is being vacated by Republican Gov. Mike Foster, who is statutorily limited from running for a third term.

Breaux had promised he would make an early decision on whether to run in the 2003 race and he delivered, surprising analysts who said he would be hard to beat because of his strong reputation in the U.S. Senate and ability to raise money fast.

Earlier this week, statewide polls found that Breaux had 36 percent of the voters’ support if he were to run for governor tomorrow, putting him far ahead from the rest of the names listed in the poll.

The second highest potential candidate was Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco with 12 percent, who said she will definitely run since Breaux is out of the race.  Attorney General Richard Ieyoub earned 7 percent and Treasurer John Kennedy, 6 percent in the poll. They both have been running unofficially. Others interested in the race include Republican state Sen. Ken Hollis and former state Senate president Randy Ewing, a Democrat.

Breaux, an attorney by trade and former congressman, is currently serving his third term in office.  Having built an image as an effective centrist in the Senate, Breaux said it would be bad for Louisiana to lose 30 years of congressional experience.

A win for the gubernatorial seat would also hand Breaux the challenge of returning to a home state that is suffering from poverty, poor education and political corruption.

Following Breaux's announcement, Rep. David Vitter, R-La, issued a statement praising the senator's "distinguished track record of seeing bipartisan solutions to our nation's challenges."

Vitter said any man or woman following Foster's steps must focus on "dramatically improving education, ending political corruption and developing jobs in Louisiana."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.