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.
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
The former star of Saturday Night Live throws in his 2 cents on the Big Oil lawsuit.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday, March 10, 2014:
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.
A federal appeals panel ruled Monday that businesses don't have to prove that they were directly harmed by BP's 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect settlement payments.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has closed Interstate 10 from I-49 in Lafayette to Seigen Lane in Baton Rouge.