McAllister still undecided on re-election campaign
ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) — Is U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister seeking re-election or not?
On Monday, The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1jAhvlA ) he sounded like a candidate for the fall 5th Congressional District election instead of a man who, on a video that went viral, kissed his political career goodbye.
"We've had a lot of supporters come out and say 'You decided too quick'" not to seek re-election, McAllister told a crowd in Alexandria at a Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
McAllister's political career is under fire after a video was published showing the married congressman kissing a staffer, who has since resigned.
"My intention today: I'm not running," said McAllister, a Republican from Swartz, near Monroe. "But I'm leaving my options open."
Before the luncheon, McAllister passed three times on saying definitively whether he's seeking re-election in November. He said he will continue to be a congressman until the term ends in January, and that he will be guided by constituents.
"I have a job to do as a congressman, and that is what I'm going to do," he said.
GOP political consultant Roy Fletcher said if McAllister is wavering it could be a signal of an internal struggle he's fighting.
"He's trying to deal with a lot of things, and one of those is dealing with himself," Fletcher said.
McAllister told those at the Chamber luncheon that he was never the choice of the established Republican Party to replace Rodney Alexander, who resigned last year to take a job with Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration. McAllister won a special election last year, where, in a runoff, he handily defeated the Louisiana Republican Party's hand-picked candidate — state Sen. Neil Riser.
"It's no secret the GOP is not fond of me," McAllister said Monday. "My voice is for the 5th District."
McAllister in 2013 ran as a Christian family-values candidate. He self-financed the campaign with $1 million and had the backing of Phil Robertson and others in the famed Duck Dynasty family.
Despite the infidelity and numerous calls from state and national GOP officials, McAllister did not resign. But in early May, McAllister's Washington D.C. office issued a statement saying he would not run for re-election in the fall.
"I made a decision with my wife and all at the time not to run for re-election," McAllister told reporters Monday.
At the luncheon, attended also by McAllister's wife, Kelly, and one of their five children, 3-year-old daughter Eva, McAllister recounted times that he said showed he was an independent legislator.
He said Louisiana's 5th District, which stretches from northeast Louisiana south to Rapides Parish and farther south to parishes north of Baton Rouge, is the ninth poorest in the country. He said many in the district need Jindal to accept the billions of dollars in Medicaid funds available for Louisiana.