SADOW: McAllister Is Still Hanging On, If Barely

In Louisiana’s Fifth Congressional District contest, a new poll shows it’s still a matter of pushmi-pullyu for Democrats relative to strategy, while for Republicans too many cooks threaten to spoil the broth – leaving the object of the bad news from this week perhaps better off as a result.

An Alabama-based group conducted this effort and in a sense confirmed the common wisdom that the only Democrat and black in the race in a district the registration of which is almost half Democrat and one-third black, Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, leads the way with 19 percent. Embattled incumbent Republican Rep. Vance McAllister comes in second at 17 percent, and would thus hold down the spot opposite Mayo in the runoff. Apparently moving up and into third with 13 percent is salesman Zach Dasher, related to the Duck Commander family which had supported McAllister in his initial special election bid for the office but who now declare the incumbent anathema, while leader of the previous independent poll Dr. Ralph Abraham seemingly has slumped into fourth at 11 percent. No other candidate in the contest has cracked double-digits, which shows they likely are to be left in the dust – although with 21 percent of the sample still undecided it’s not impossible one could emerge.

Mayo’s singular status and McAllister’s incumbency would make it sensible that they lead, but with nobody getting endorsement of even a fifth of the sample shows the contest remains wide open. Most notably, McAllister continues to fall, now down ten points from the first such poll, consistent with the idea that the later the campaign proceeds, the less advantageous his default incumbent status becomes as voters learn more about the other options.

McAllister got buffeted by more unfavorable news last week when a story revealed a suit had been filed against the company he owns a 50 percent share in by an ex-employee who claimed he was forced out because he objected to lascivious social occasions the company allegedly sponsored. In the court documents filed, McAllister was not said to have been present at these purported events. Then, in a bizarre twist, just before the story hit the Internet the plaintiff essentially told the courts to never mind what he had said.

Had it occurred in isolation relative to events concerning McAllister’s brief congressional career that McAllister would condone debauchery, if even participate in it, would have little persuasive impact on the electorate. Of course, there’s not a vacuum here: being as McAllister found it perfectly permissible to surreptitiously put his marriage vows on hold before and during his nascent service in Washington, it becomes a lot more credible that he cavorted, or at least encouraged others to, with prostitutes, strippers, and anybody interested in good old-fashioned sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Especially since the former plaintiff went to all the trouble to head to the courts. And especially now that this whole thing got dropped mysteriously just before it was about to go public, making it plausible in the minds of some constituents that McAllister was using inside status and wealth to try to get out of a jam, a tactic that the same typical constituent does not have available.

That impression both helps and hurts Republicans. The incumbent is their least favored candidate, because he deviates from conservatism in some of his preferences. But his libidinous behavior, while obviously detracting from his popularity, spills over to impressions of the party as well. It also puts Republicans in an uncomfortable electoral spot, for while this report damages the McAllister candidacy even further, the fragmentation of the field of Republicans – both Dasher and Abraham are of the GOP, and so are several others in the single digits – means McAllister still has a chance to make it to what appears to be the inevitable Mayo runoff.

Had just one or two quality Republicans declared, McAllister now would be dead in the water for any chance of reelection. The state party wanted McAllister to resign when this spring the evidence of his extramarital dalliance became known, but if it at all tried to narrow the field, either it miserably failed or didn’t try seriously, demonstrating again the relatively little influence that the state GOP exerts beyond statewide contests.

This incident may be the one that finally marginalizes McAllister to the point of no return, for a number of voters will think of him in the context of Luke 16:10 and judging him in the matter of marital fidelity failing in that way then it is credible he would fail in moral questions relative to the environment established at his firm. That possibility haunts liberal Democrat activists, for they are little short of willing for the sacrifice of their first born (if not already aborted previously) to get McAllister into the runoff against Mayo. So damaged now is the incumbent that Mayo would stand a decent chance of winning if up against him, even if only to serve for two years (indeed, Republicans may wish to “throw” the contest to Mayo if this happens, knowing he would be easy to knock off two years later against a reputable conservative and that a Mayo win now would not endanger their House majority).

That thought only increases the chances of Democrats selectively defecting from Mayo to McAllister just to try to trigger this, a strategy noted previously in this space. Even if they went too far in a sense and actually aced Mayo out of the runoff, McAllister with Democrat votes would stand a decent chance of winning the runoff – which he might win anyway even against Mayo – with either scenario minimizing the chances a conservative Republican gets elected, whereas Mayo vs. anybody-but-McAllister makes it virtually certain one will.

The fallout then of this revelation could be increased Democrat emphasis on avoiding election of a conservative Republican. Ironically, the bad news then actually may be the good news for McAllister.



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