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Potential candidates seek to replace ‘kissing Congressman’

12th May 2014   ·   0 Comments

By Christopher Tidmore
Contributing Writer

Amidst rumors that other potential mistresses might exist in Monroe, last week, U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister decided not to seek re-election. That has set off a flurry of rumors as to who will emerge as candidates to replace the Fifth District Congressman in November. They include a cousin of A&E’s Roberston Clan, the Black Mayor of Monroe, McAllister’s Chief of Staff, and the State Senator that McAllister defeated last fall.

These rumors, however, have masked discussion of the real reason that the Congressman decided to demur from another race, depleted campaign finance accounts and falling poll numbers.

McAllister claimed that his wife and children were the reasons that he decided not to seek another term. “The past few weeks have been a trying time for my family,” the Congressman admitted in a public statement explaining his decision. Yet, McAllister had repeated his intention to seek another term for weeks after the original “kissing” video went public, well after the emotional damage had been done. His decision to change his mind might have more to do with the disapproval of LAGOP Chairman Roger Villere and Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Both men had called upon McAllister to resign, but their resolution on the matter was best demonstrated by the reality that the Congressman’s campaign account possessed only $8,425. Thanks to Jindal and Villere, McAllister simply could not raise any more money. The GOP leadership made fundraising impossible after the scandal broke.

McAllister who is independently wealthy, could have, as a last resort, personally funded his campaign in November. That’s what he basically did last time, and that proved a mistake. He exits Congress with $395,000 unpaid repaid loans,

Yet, loans to himself are not the only liabilities owed by his campaign account. The Monroe Congressman has a number of unpaid bills. He owes $9,511 to K&L Gates, a law firm, and nearly $150,000 to Red Print Strategy for campaign consulting. The $46,955 raised in the first quarter of 2014, prior to the scandal, has dwindled to virtually no donations now.

With McAllister out, Riser who lost to McAllister, remains the candidate to beat. The State Senator proclaimed that he would make no decision about the race until after the regular legislative session concludes in June, and most of his potential opponents await his intentions. With one notable exception, Grant Parish District Attorney Ed Tarpley. A critic of McAllister’s centrist views on the Affordable Care Act, Tarpley had considered a bid prior to the kissing scandal. Mere days after the video surfaced, Tarpley, announ­ced his candidacy for the 5th District post. He runs regardless of a Riser bid.

Other potential competitors, from Hazel to fellow GOP Rep. Jay Morris, are not so courageous. They’ll wait. But, Morris’ second cousin might not. Demonstrating that Louisiana politics can be a ‘family feud,’ Harris Brown has already been making calls saying that he is considering a bid as well, regardless of whether his cousin Jay runs or not.

And, everyone wonders what Adam Terry will do this time around. McAllister’s Chief of Staff, and prior to that, Cong. Rodney Alexander’s Chief, Terry spent years building relationships in Washington. He nearly ran himself prior to endorsing McAllister — and working on behalf of the current incumbent’s election. In that brief time, Terry made little secret of his future ambitions.

Willie Robertson, star of the A&E reality show, revealed to the Monroe New Star that his first cousin Zach Dasher leans towards a bid. Dasher, a pharmaceutical representative from Cal­houn, would have “the full support” of the Duck Com­mand­er and his bearded, telegenic kin, if he chose to run for McAl­lister’s seat.

Dasher has not formally announced, but he sounded like a candidate when the Pharma­ceutical rep declared his goal as congressman would be to defend the rights bestowed on to man by his creator and to put forward “a Christian Worldview”.

The only candidate widely expected to run right now is Jamie Mayo, the African-American may­or of Monroe. He played a close third in last fall’s special election, just 3,000 votes behind McAl­lister. State Democrats quickly realized that had Mayo been better fin­anced, he would have made the runoff.

That’s, of course, a question of allocation of resources. While nearly 30 percent of the 5th District electorate is Black, the seat remains a GOP stronghold, unlikely to elect any Democrat to Congress. McAllister won because of his embrace of the Medicaid expansion portion of Obamacare, a move that motivated Mayo and other Democrats to back him over Riser in the all-GOP runoff. If Gerrymandering locks a Democrat out of the Fifth District, some state Democratic leaders have privately pondered if they would better be suited to support a moderate Republican who would occasionally vote with the President rather than one of their own.

This article originally published in the May 12, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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