Political newcomer Vance McAllister of Swartz pulled off his second big election surprise in a row by easily defeating the early favorite in the Nov. 16 runoff in the 5th Congressional District.
|State Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, was easily defeated in a Saturday runoff in the 5th Congressional District by a more moderate Republican newcomer,
Vance McAllister of Swartz
After coming out of nowhere to finish second in the primary — and 15 points behind state Sen. Neil Riser of Columbia — McAllister thumped his fellow Republican in the runoff with nearly 60 percent of the vote. He replaces U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, who joined the Jindal Administration one day after announcing he was leaving office.
“No one saw this coming,” said one political operative not aligned with either campaign.
Another predicted even more surprises as data becomes available, saying, “I’ll bet [McAllister] carries all major demographics when the analysis is done. He definitely cornered the anti-Jindal vote.”
While endorsements often don’t offer enough to push a candidate over the finish line, Couvillon said McAllister owes a large debt to Public Service Commission Clyde Holloway, a Republican from Forest Hill; Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, a Democrat; and the “Duck Dynasty” bunch, according to John Couvillon with JMC Enterprises of Louisiana.
All gave big nods to the businessman. Holloway and Mayo, in particular, were primary losers.
“The cumulative effect of those endorsements is important,” Couvillon said. “In isolation they wouldn’t have made as much of a difference as all three together.”
While both ran on conservative platforms, McAllister took a more pragmatic approach to the Affordable Care Act and even called for expanding Medicaid to cover more uninsured low-income residents — opposing Gov. Bobby Jindal’s stance. Riser in turn attacked McAllister in direct mail and on TV regarding the health care issue.
McAllister made his stance known on Medicaid just eight days before the election, during a time in campaigns when many voters start tuning out, with their decisions already made. Analysts and consultants say McAllister had already worked up a head of steam when he dropped his political bomb during Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s Nov. 8 debate.
Given more time, Riser could have gained traction on his attacks, they say, but probably not enough to turn the tide.
Nonetheless, many view McAllister’s Medicaid expansion comments as the turning point in the race. It may have certainly been the fuel behind Democratic turnout in certain areas, like black precincts in Ouachita Parish where McAllister earned more votes than Mayo did in the primary.
Riser was supported by all of the state’s Republican congressmen and was all but verbally endorsed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, who called the senator a good friend and “great conservative leader” while criticizing McAllister’s position on the Medicaid expansion.
The question now becomes whether the race will affect next year’s U.S. Senate election. In his campaign against incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, Congressman Bill Cassidy does seem to be using the same playbook as McAllister’s failed opponent.
Themes that draw support from the tea party demographic — thrash Obamacare, be tough on immigration, balance the budget and cut entitlements — haven’t worked for Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, who trails behind newcomer and fellow Republican Rob Maness in that respect. Riser, however, did have tea party support. And look where it got him.
That’s not to say Maness is positioned for a similar upset. But it’s probably a sign that Cassidy will be taking a more pragmatic approach in the coming months on what have been his cornerstone issues. Unless Landrieu, a New Orleans Democrat who has made an art of playing the center, gets there first.
Business organizations opposed the proposal, saying it would lead to job losses and higher prices for goods and services.
An attempt to repeal a six-year-old law that permits public school science teachers to use material outside a classroom's adopted textbook has been rejected by the Senate Education Committee.
New York Times poll shows Obama, Jindal have identical approval and disapproval ratings in the state.
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The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill Wednesday, despite opponents who argued it would shut down the storefront lenders.
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Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
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After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
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An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
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It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
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An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.