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.
WaPo Watergate editor Ben Bradlee dies; Clintons stump for Dems; Liberians stranded and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 22, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.
Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.
Coming off the high of a fourth quarter comeback against Tampa Bay and a helpful bye week, linebacker Junior Galette sees a real turnaround coming for New Orleans' struggling defense.
Former President Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party's most popular surrogate this fall, is heading to Louisiana early next week for a campaign rally with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Time and again you hear people say DA Mike Harson is unbeatable because he's doled out political favors over the past 20 years. But a new lawsuit could end that speculation.
After the season's signature win (so far), here are some helpful tips for Cajun Nation during the conference stretch.
Did the state close last year's books with a surplus or a deficit?
Practicing without limitations on Wednesday, running back Mark Ingram looked ready to return to a New Orleans offense that once again ranks among the NFL's best when the Saints play at Detroit on Sunday.
It’s been decided: Superintendents of Louisiana’s public school system will retain the controversial powers granted by Act 1 of the 2012 session.
Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy has a bone to pick with the Jindal administration, which recently — surprise! — announced that the state ended the most recent budget year with a $178.5 million dollar surplus.
The messaging battle, however, isn't tied to individual campaign accounts. Third-party groups have poured millions of dollars into advertising.