U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister, Louisiana’s infamous kissing congressman, scheduled a press conference for Monday morning during which many expect he’ll recant his declaration from April and announce he will seek re-election this fall.
Whether he announces he plans to run or not, there will be a lot attention paid to what McAllister’s staff is calling a “special press conference,” scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at the American Legion Hall in Monroe.
Entering just the eighth month of his first year in Congress, the Swartz Republican businessman has had an eventful rookie season. In November 2013 he assumed the final year of the two-year congressional term of Rodney Alexander, who abruptly announced his resignation in August 2013.
With the backing of television’s “Duck Dynasty” family, McAllister ran as a conservative Christian newcomer with traditional family values and beat the Louisiana Republican elite’s favored candidate, state Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia.
McAllister then was caught by a security camera planting a lingering kiss on a married aide in the dark. The video of the kiss, which took place about a month after he took office, surfaced in April. The images went viral on the Internet, prompting news coverage — and comic fodder — around the world.
U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., personally asked McAllister to resign.
Gov. Bobby Jindal called McAllister’s behavior “an embarrassment” and called for his resignation.
McAllister announced he would not run for re-election in November but would finish out the year. “I’ve made a mistake. I’ve failed those I care most about and let down the people who elected me to represent them,” McAllister said.
About two weeks later, McAllister started rolling back his statement that he wouldn’t run.
In mid-May, McAllister told a Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce luncheon crowd in Alexandria: “We’ve had a lot of supporters come out and say, ‘You decided too quick.’ ” He said he would leave his options open.
Then two weeks ago, McAllister repeated the sentiment to reporters in Washington, mentioning the “overwhelming support asking me to reconsider.” McAllister referenced a recent poll that indicated he could win re-election.
Four candidates have announced so far: Republican Ralph Abraham, of Alto; Republican businessman Harris Brown, of Monroe; Republican former District Attorney Ed Tarpley, of Alexandria; and Libertarian Clay Grant, of Boyce.
Candidates have to file the necessary paperwork between Aug. 20 and Aug. 22. All candidates who qualify run on the same ballot in November. If no candidate garners at least 50 percent of the vote, the race proceeds to a December runoff.
The mostly rural 5th District stretches from Monroe to Alexandria to Bogalusa, covering 24 parishes in northeast and central Louisiana plus much of the Florida parishes. More than 60 percent of the voters there supported GOP presidential candidates in 2008 and 2012.