North Louisiana voters kissed U.S. Congressman Vance McAllister goodbye on Tuesday, when more voters opted for Monroe’s four-term mayor and a rural family practitioner to face each other in a Dec. 6 runoff.
The runoff means that Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District will be free of “Duck Dynasty”-endorsed candidates for the first time since McAllister initially secured his seat in November 2013.
With 100 percent of the vote tallied in the 845 precincts across 24 parishes in northeast and central Louisiana and along the Florida parishes that border Mississippi, U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister — who came under fire this year after his extramarital dalliance became public — came in fourth place with only 11 percent of the votes in a crowded pool of nine candidates.
Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, an African-American Democrat who ran on his economic development accomplishments, led the field with 28 percent of the votes, according to the unofficial tally by the Secretary of State.
“We’ve had a successful record that has allowed us to be mayor for 31/2 terms and councilman for 21/2 terms and that has spoken volumes here, not just in Ouachita Parish, but throughout the 5th Congressional District,” Mayo said.
He was followed by Dr. Ralph Abraham, a Republican who is a general practitioner in the rural community of Alto, with 23 percent of the votes cast.
Zach Dasher, a Calhoun Republican who is the nephew of reality television star Phil Robertson, just narrowly missed the runoff, with 22 percent of the vote.
McCallister did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Elsewhere in the state
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, the House majority whip, handily defeated three opponents with 77 percent of the vote in the 1st Congressional District, based in the suburbs around New Orleans.
Seeking his fourth term in the district since replacing Gov. Bobby Jindal in 2008, Scalise faced Democrats Lee Dugas and Vinny Mendoza, as well as Libertarian Jeffry Sanford. Since first taking office, Scalise has become a more prominent player in the national Republican party, winning a battle to become the GOP’s whip earlier this year.
Likewise, U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Democrat in a minority-majority district that stretches along the Mississippi River from New Orleans to north Baton Rouge, easily won a third term with 68 percent of the votes cast in the 2nd Congressional District.
Richmond, at 41 a veteran New Orleans politician, faced Democrats Rufus Johnson and Gary Landrieu, Libertarian Samuel Davenport and David Brooks, who ran without party affiliation. No Republican entered the race.
This was the second time Richmond has run in a reconfigured district including both Baton Rouge and New Orleans since it was changed after the 2010 U.S. census. The district previously included just Orleans and Jefferson parishes, but needed to be reworked to reflect the shifts in population following Hurricane Katrina.
In Acadiana’s 3rd Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany readily won a sixth term with 79 percent of the vote. He was challenged by fellow Republican Bryan Barrilleaux, who ran as a conservative refusing the take campaign contributions, and Russell Richard, who ran without party affiliation, arguing that incumbents kowtow to big donors.
The Shreveport-based 4th District pitted incumbent U.S. Rep. John Fleming, a Republican from Minden, against Libertarian Randall Lord, from Shreveport, whom he bested with ease. Fleming took 73 percent of the vote.
McAllister’s re-election path was made more difficult by his personal indiscretion. Back in April, after security cameras caught McAllister kissing a married aide — earning him the moniker the “kissing congressman” — he had declared he would not seek a full term. He had won the seat vacated by Rodney Alexander in November 2013, beating a candidate backed by the GOP establishment by relying on a “family values” message and the support of the Christian conservative Robertson family of “Duck Dynasty” fame.
By summer, however, the incumbent had changed his mind, saying his wife, Kelli, had convinced him that the voters of the 5th Congressional District should decide whether he deserved to reclaim the seat or be replaced.
He has conducted a lively campaign since then. In the parking lot of the Secretary of State’s Office, moments after delivering his official paperwork to run, McAllister did an “ice bucket challenge” to increase awareness of ALS, then rode off to Lake Charles to deliver a rousing speech at the Legis-Gator chamber of commerce events. In the final weeks of the campaign, he shaved his head during halftime at a University of Louisiana at Monroe football game to raise money for the Cancer Foundation League.
Though McAllister’s infidelity was little spoken of by his challengers, it was a main topic for many others weighing in on the race. Phil Robertson, the West Monroe patriarch of the reality television family that ends each show in prayer, did commercials endorsing Dasher as having been “thoroughly vetted.” He also did a commercial holding a Bible and an automatic rifle, saying Dasher believed in both. Dasher, a businessman, said Congress needs Christians to help the U.S. find its way again.
The other Republican candidates stuck with the standard GOP playbook of running against President Barack Obama, opposing the federal Affordable Care Act, banning U.S. entry to travelers who had been in the West African countries troubled with Ebola and closing borders to immigrants.
Mayo, the only Democrat on the ballot, focused his rhetoric on creating jobs in one the nation’s most poverty-stricken areas.