(Photo: Rodney Alexander)
After all, he was backed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, outgoing 5th District U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, and GOP members of the Louisiana Congressional House delegation.
It was the candidate who came in second and earned a spot in the runoff that was surprising. Vance McAllister, a Republican and Monroe businessman, came out of nowhere to earn the right to challenge Riser in the runoff on November 16 by getting 18% of the vote.
Most of the attention had centered on, in addition to Riser, Republican state Rep. Jay Morris of Monroe and Republican Clyde Holloway, former U.S. Rep. and current Public Service Commissioner, of Forest Hill.
When all was said and done, Jamie Mayo, Monroe’s African-American mayor, came in third with 15%. Holloway was fourth with 11%, and Morris was sixth with 7% in the 14-candidate field.
Riser, according to the latest reports, had raised and spent more than a half-million dollars on the race. But no reports were filed with the Federal Election Commission by McAllister, which could be an issue as the runoff progresses.
McAllister apparently made a substantial TV buy and ran ads that criticized incumbents in Congress. That strategy seemed to hit a chord with voters during the U.S. government shutdown.
But some political analysts say that McAllister also got a good boost from the endorsement of Phil Robertson, the star of the popular reality TV show Duck Dynasty.
The race in the 24-parish district in northeast and central Louisiana was not without controversy. Widespread allegations circulated that Jindal and Alexander conspired with Riser to give the funeral director from Columbia an advantage in the race.
Those allegations will likely continue to follow Riser as he now goes up against a perceived outsider – someone who does not hold a political office and has no ties to any current elected officials.
The eventual winner will fill out the remainder of Alexander’s U.S. House term, which expires in 2014.
Deer in headlights?
Pity the poor staffer who allowed Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes to ambush Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander in his office while taping a segment for the popular CBS television program.
Kroft was investigating members of Congress who use political action committee funds to put family members on their campaign staffs. They are forbidden by law from having family members on their personal staffs.
But there is no law against a member paying a family member from campaign funds to do work for the member’s campaign. And that is what caught Kroft’s attention about Alexander.
He paid his two daughters a collective $130,000 over the course of the last re-election campaign.
Alexander appeared very uncomfortable with the questions being asked by Kroft. “What exactly did they do, can you tell me?” Kroft asked. Alexander responded, “They did everything that others do for other campaigns.”
Kroft pressed on: “To some people it just looks like you’re using your campaign funds to enrich your family.”
Alexander responded: “Well, somebody had to do that work. I kept it with somebody that I can trust. And if you can’t trust your daughters, then who can you trust?”
It was not a flattering piece on Alexander, who retired from Congress on September 27 and is now the Louisiana Secretary for Veterans Affairs.
by Lou Gehrig Burnett, Publisher of Fax-Net