…and if he does he might well have 60 Minutes to thank for it.
That’s because last night 60 Minutes had, as part of its expose’/collaboration with Peter Schweizer on his new book Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets, this…
(Skip ahead to about 9:25 of the video and you’ll catch the Rodney Alexander segment in which he paid $130,000 to his two daughters out of his Leadership PAC for work on his 2012 re-election campaign where he didn’t have a Democrat or Republican challenger and got 78 percent against a Libertarian).
This is going to leave a bad taste in a lot of mouths, even though Alexander has been a fairly popular member of Congress in that district. And McAllister now has the ability to tie his runoff opponent Neil Riser, who led the 14-candidate primary with 32 percent of the vote on Saturday, to the good-old-boy nepotism the 60 Minutes piece makes Alexander appear a practitioner of.
Particularly if Alexander were to officially endorse Riser. Back in August it was reported that endorsement was imminent, but it never actually materialized in official fashion (at least nowhere we could find it), perhaps because of the rumors of a deal between Riser, Alexander and Gov. Bobby Jindal in which by opening up a short-duration special election to Riser’s advantage thanks to Alexander leaving office early, the Congressman secured a relatively cushy state job as head of veterans’ affairs and therefore scoring a double state-federal pension at a quite-comfortable income.
We make no representation as to the truth of that rumor. All involved deny it. But with Riser only running at 32 percent of the 68 percent of the primary vote which went to Republican candidates it clearly had an effect on his performance, and with Alexander now coming off as the classic politician who uses the levers of government to the advantage of him and his, voters are going to be motivated to punish somebody for that perceived abuse.
And since Riser is the established politician in the race, as a state senator who’s known to have had designs on that congressional seat for some time, McAllister could play up the connection to Alexander and feed the exasperated public perception that career politicians are all a bunch of crooks with their hands out.
Since he’s independently wealthy, a businessman and has never run for anything before, he can make that case without getting hit. In fact, a search of FEC records indicates McAllister has never even donated in federal races and a search of Louisiana records only shows a pair of $400 donations to state sen. Francis Thompson (D-Delhi) last year; he’s anything but a player on the campaign donation scene. So far, McAllister looks like he can paint himself as Mr. Clean – and part of Riser’s challenge is going to be to dispel that image.
Some of that effort could involve attempting to bleed McAllister’s personal funds. His campaign finance report, which finally hit today, shows that only $9,965 of the $244,965 he raised came from actual campaign donors; McAllister paid for the rest out of pocket. And he only had eight donors, of which five were from Louisiana and that quintet combined to give him $2,300.
McAllister’s campaign reports $23,000 in cash on hand. Riser, on the other hand, had $210,000 on hand as of September 29. So some of the question involves how high an ante McAllister is willing to meet, and/or whether some of the state’s larger political donors would be willing to jump in behind him. If Riser hits the gas hard and forces an unprecedented level of spending in the 5th District, particularly if that spending is performed wisely, it could make a difference in the race.
We’ll also know two other things soon. First, whether McAllister’s campaign team is congressional-grade. His report details expenditures to three individuals for consulting work; Greg Dunn and Kelley Holmes, both of Monroe, and David O’Connell of Alexandria, Virginia. O’Connell served as the campaign manager for two other Republican congressional candidates of recent vintage; Curtis Bostic, a second-place finisher to Mark Sanford in the Republican primary for the South Carolina seat opened up when Tim Scott was tapped for the U.S. Senate, and Patrick Murray, lost 64.6-30.6 last year in a challenge to the obnoxious Democrat Jim Moran in Virginia.
And second, we’ll find out just how badly McAllister wants to beat Riser. That’s going to be reflected in how aggressively he pushes the buttons available to him in the race, but perhaps more importantly how much of his own cash he’s willing to deposit into the cause.