Surprising no one, Rep. Vance McAllister returned to Washington today for the first time since a video was released showing him in a passionate kiss with a staffer to whom he’s not married, and let it be known that he won’t be running for re-election.
Nobody thought McAllister would really go through with a re-election bid after his sex scandal broke, and that perception was bolstered when a poll hit the news a couple of weeks ago showing that a majority of voters wouldn’t put him back in for another term. That poll also showed that in a hypothetical runoff with State Rep. Neil Riser, whom McAllister trounced 60-40 in last year’s special election runoff, McAllister loses by a 56-44 margin. If you believe Riser is damaged goods that’s an indication almost anybody can beat McAllister.
Roger Villere, the chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party who got into a major dustup with McAllister’s chief of staff Adam Terry when he demanded McAllister’s resignation – including a threat by Terry to expose the misbehavior of other members of the Louisiana congressional delegation – was pleased with the result…
“While I would have liked to see Rep. McAllister close this chapter sooner, I was happy to hear of his decision to do what is best for his family and his constituents. Now that this situation is behind us, I am confident that voters in the 5th District will choose a strong conservative candidate in November.”
What was behind Villere’s demand for a resignation rather than an announcement like today’s was electoral strategy. The real issue for the LAGOP in this year’s election cycle is – just as you’d expect – the Senate race against Mary Landrieu, and they’re looking for the best possible advantage. Given that the Democrats are trying to find candidates in every congressional district who will serve to turn out their base voters, as evidenced by Edwin Edwards in LA-6 and Shreveport mayor Cedric Glover in LA-4, a special election for McAllister’s seat would be a good way to effectively block them from doing that in LA-5 in November.
The reasoning goes that if you’re the Democrats and you’re looking for a candidate, you’re probably going to have a lot more success getting one who’s willing to run in a special election over the summer than you would in November – because whoever would win the special election would be the incumbent and you’d have a devil of a time of beating a brand-new incumbent in November.
Which, from Villere’s perspective, is a scenario well worth angling for – however unlikely or expensive it might have been.
Villere didn’t get what he was looking for, so the small advantage against Landrieu a special election in LA-5 would have presented won’t happen. But McAllister choosing not to run for re-election at least saves the LAGOP from a worst-case scenario and the only real way the party could lose the seat – namely, that an embattled McAllister would run for re-election and manage to make the runoff against a Democrat who could use the sex scandal as a cudgel with which to beat him to a pulp.
As it stands now, we’ll have yet another free-for-all of an election. Riser might get in, state Sen. Mike Walsworth (R-West Monroe) might be a strong candidate, Democrat Rep. Robert Johnson (D-Alexandria) will probably try again and Monroe mayor Jamie Mayo could be another Democrat with a real shot at the runoff. There are several other potential candidates as well, and the former holder of the seat Rodney Alexander, who has said he would run and then denied he would, might possibly return to the fray as well.