Open Field in the 5th Congressional District

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Congressman Vance McAllister, on his first day back from the Easter recess Monday, announced he would serve out the remainder of his term, but not seek re-election in the fall. That leaves an open field in the 5th District that will begin forming up in the coming weeks. 

A poll released two weeks ago showed McAllister facing a tough road ahead, but it also offers the best picture of who might be running to replace him now that he’s out.

According to an automated phone survey from the Glascock Group, the state senator McAllister so handily defeated in the November runoff, fellow Republican Neil Riser of Columbia, would have returned the favor in a rematch, by a 56-44 percent margin.

Asked at the Capitol recently if he would run, Riser said, “Time will tell.”

The thumping defeat in the November special election could be traced to his moving too soon after former Congressman Rodney Alexander suddenly announced his resignation, spawning voter resentment over the real or imagined “Neil Deal.” A proven fundraiser in short order, he is perhaps best positioned to emerge as the favored Republican, but only if he distances himself from Gov. Bobby Jindal and Co., which weighed him down last time.

Others included in the poll were Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, a Democrat, and Public Service Commissioner Clyde Holloway, a Republican. Both men ran against McAllister in the special election last year.

Holloway said after his third-place primary finish that his tenth race for Congress would be his last, and he said recently he hasn’t changed his mind. Meanwhile, Mayo and state Rep. Marcus Hunter, D-Monroe, who was not included in the poll, had ruled out running again, but that was before McAllister’s big announcement.

Also in the Glascock poll were state Rep. Chris Hazel, R-Pineville, who has not said he will run this fall, and attorney Ed Tarpley, who announced his candidacy this month.

Sure, the kissing video did the heavy lifting, but did more than $1 million in debts help push Congressman Vance McAllister further out of the fall election?

MORE: Cash Problems May Have Helped Force Out McAllister

But many others not in the poll could surface for the race.

State Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Marksville, who lost in the 2013 primary field, issued a press release Monday stating that McAllister needs to take it a step further and not just skip his re-election. “Congressman McAllister should resign because he’s not doing his job,” Johnson said. “He isn’t communicating with other elected officials. He isn’t communicating with his constituents. For all practical purposes, the people of our district are without representation in the United States Congress.”

Johnson made no indication of whether he plans to run again, but has expressed interest. With Holloway out of the way, Johnson could pick up regional support in Rapides and other parishes on the southern end of the sprawling district.

McAllister’s predecessor is another one to consider. “I would never say anything is off of the table,” state Veterans Affairs Secretary Rodney Alexander told The Monroe News-Star earlier this month. “If I felt like the people of Louisiana and the 5th District wanted me for a particular purpose or office, I am willing to serve them.”

State Rep. Jay Morris, R-Monroe, would not comment when contacted by LaPolitics earlier this month. He was the most run over by the McAllister juggernaut, losing his own House district in the special election. He spent about $400,000 of personal money on the bid, so it’s a question of whether he’s ready to put up again.

Versions of this story were first published in Issue 977 of LaPolitics Weekly on April 17, 2014, and in Issue 976 on April 10, 2014. Wish you would have read it then? Subscribe now!