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Wednesday, 21 May 2014 10:24
McAllister Hopeless, Riser with Good Chances for Louisiana 5th
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capitol-dcCandidates for Louisiana’s Fifth Congressional District have started percolating to the surface, with at this point the only sure things about the election being it won’t be won by incumbent Rep. Vance McAllister or somebody with anything like his pedigree.

 McAllister earlier this year got busted in a tryst with a married woman not his wife, leading to his disclaiming of intent to run for reelection. He seemed to hedge on this recently, but any reversal on his part cannot be taken seriously and would lead to his electoral defeat.

Besides being heavily in debt and short on cash, additionally unsubstantiated rumors about a potential bimbo eruption plaguing him should more than discourage his participation. And after having announced deferral to improve familial relations at home, it seems hardly credible that in a short period such repairs would have been made. Voters will see through this and gauge his reanimated interest in the office more for power’s sake than anything else such as genuine desire to serve constituents. He cannot win under these conditions.

Thus far four others have announced for the contest, of which two given their past connections could be competitive. Former Grant Parish District Attorney Republican Ed Tarpley, who left that job in an unsuccessful bid for state Attorney General, had planned to run regardless of McAllister scandals or intentions, claiming he was not conservative enough and pointing specifically to his acquiescence to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Monroe-area government board member Republican Harris Brown recently made his declaration to run.

Tarpley had supported area Public Service Representative Clyde Holloway in the 2013 special election, but then switched to Republican state Sen. Neil Riser who made the runoff against McAllister. Brown is a second cousin of another failed candidate, state Rep. Jay Morris and the son of former state Sen. Billy Brown, whose enthusiastic support of current Sixth Congressional District candidate Prisoner #03128-095 in the days when he was known as Gov. Edwin Edwards might not be such a liability on the fortunes of his son as, outside of Acadiana and urban areas, northeast Louisiana was the most friendly territory for the Democrat Edwards. Holloway has said he will not run and Morris seems unlikely to risk a repeat of spending relatively much of his own money for relatively few votes.

Already, slots based upon geographic loyalties and personal relations to prior candidates have found pegs in these two, but a big one should be filled by a prior candidate himself, Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo. Given the district’s demographics he is an unlikely winner, but the state party is likely to invest more into his candidacy this time around as a part of the strategy including Edwards and, if possible, prominent black Democrat politicians who would not have to surrender their current posts in order to run such as Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover to run for Congress in order to stimulate turnout for the troubled reelection campaign of Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu.

And almost as certain to run is Riser, who holds superior name recognition in the district leftover from the special election and polls very well. If so, he becomes the instant favorite – but he was also less than a year ago yet McAllister upset him. If nothing else, he might get a boost from a sense of buyer’s remorse among the electorate.

However, that scenario of a total political outsider swooping in to ride anti-politician sentiment seems extremely unlikely to repeat. McAllister’s antics poisoned that well where somebody who has some experience in elected or appointed government positions – as all of Brown, Mayo, Riser, and Tarpley have – sends a reassurance that whoever gets there knows how to comport himself to prevent frittering away meaningful political capital. Therefore, this makes small the chances of somebody like pharmaceutical representative Zach Dasher, a member of the Robertson family of television’s “Duck Dynasty” fame whose ardent and public support of McAllister gave him credibility and outsized ability to attract votes, being able to capture lightning in a bottle as did McAllister.

A similar dynamic may doom the chances of anybody connected to McAllister which, ironically, also provides rehabilitative impetus for Riser. A reason McAllister’s nonpolitician airs seemed acceptable was the perception among a small but significant part of the electorate that Riser benefited from the sudden calling of the special election due to former Rep. Rodney Alexander’s surprise departure, as if skids had been greased for him. Apparently left somewhat adrift by all of this was Alexander’s former chief of staff, Adam Terry who among elites expressed interest in succeeding his former boss, who later hooked up with McAllister’s campaign and found himself as McAllister’s chief of staff as well. Now the tables are turned: Terry looks discredited as a presumably experienced but power-hungry guy who attached himself to someone he allowed to make a very basic mistake, while Riser seems absolved of his assigned sin of allegedly stealing a march as a cat’s paw of a reputed power elite.

While it’s three months to qualifying for the contest and almost as long to the election, in the end do not expect the likes of McAllister or somebody like him to win that one.

Jeffrey Sadow

Jeffrey Sadow is an associate professor of political science at Louisiana State University in Shreveport.   He writes a daily conservative blog called Between The Lines

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