At the end of a week that saw the “kissing congressman’s” wife standing by her man in a television commercial and the Duck Commander back a nephew in a radio spot — both advertisements attracted national attention — a respected congressional handicapper announced Friday that the race in Louisiana’s 5th congressional district is a “toss-up.”
Republican U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister, of Swartz, faces four credible GOP candidates and one Democrat in the Nov. 4 election. His easy path to re-election was sidetracked earlier this year by images of him kissing a woman not his wife.
With about five weeks before the primary election, The Cook Report opined that “McAllister’s best path to re-election would involve many GOP candidates splitting up the anti-McAllister vote and allowing Democrat Jamie Mayo, the African-American mayor of Monroe, to advance to the general election.” The feeling is that the strong turnout among blacks and white Democrats will be enough to get Mayo in the December runoff, but not enough to prevail in a head-to-head race with a single white Republican.
So, the battle is to see if any one of the other Republicans can break out strong enough to overcome McAllister.
The internal polling of each of the other major Republican candidates indicates that they will be one.
For instance, the polls of Dr. Ralph Abraham, of Archibald, show him with 17 percent of the vote to Mayo’s 22 percent, with McAllister polling at 13 percent. Zach Dasher, who sells pharmaceuticals and is related to the Robertson family that star in “Duck Dynasty,” comes in fourth.
Dasher’s campaign, however, shows the Calhoun Republican in a strong third with 16 percent of the vote, just behind McAllister, who has 17 percent. Mayo leads the field with 21 percent and Abraham is in single digits.
McAllister began the week with an ad that featured his wife, Kelly, telling the camera, “I’m blessed to have a husband who owns up to his mistakes.” His opponents said the commercial indicated the incumbent was dipping in the polls because of the kissing scandal.
“That campaign ad came from a one-constituent poll and that was my wife,” McAllister said. “She wanted to do it. Me and her sat and wrote the script together and then we filmed it.”
He won’t take another poll until mid-October, after voters focus in on the race more.
“There’s no strategy other than being who I am and letting the voters decide,” McAllister said. The numbers his campaign has were taken before the field was set and showed him and Mayo in the runoff.
Dasher followed up with a radio spot featuring his uncle, Phil Robertson, the Duck Commander, and his aunt, saying they backed their nephew and that he had been thoroughly vetted by the family. The Robertsons backed McAllister before the scandalous images were leaked publicly in April.
The Cook Report stated: “Dasher’s momentum may complicate that calculus. In recent weeks, he seems to have eclipsed GOP physician Ralph Abraham (who still may have the capacity to self-fund) and oil and gas businessman Harris Brown, setting himself up as the main alternative to McAllister. If Dasher and McAllister were to face each other in December, the edge would have to go to the less damaged Dasher.”
Brown says his campaign won’t take a poll until after his television commercial, which began earlier this week, has run for a few weeks. But what the Monroe oil and gas man says he’s hearing when shakes hands and looks people in the eye is that they’re disappointed in McAllister and looking for an alternative.