Here’s a reality show stunner: A nephew of “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson says he’s going to run for Congress in Louisiana. His possible primary opponent? Rep. Vance McAllister (R), the “kissing congressman” caught on video in April snuggling with a staffer who isn’t his wife.
Support from Phil Robertson helped Representative McAllister win Louisiana’s Fifth District in the first place in 2012. Now the quack pack is backing kin, apparently. Zach Dasher, the Robertson nephew in question, is a political neophyte who, in announcing his candidacy on Monday, stressed his religious faith as a qualification for office.
“I think there’s a vacuum in D.C. of people who understand where rights come from. Rights don’t come from men. They come from God,” said Mr. Dasher in an interview with the Associated Press.
When last we left the storyline down in the Fifth District, which covers a big chunk of central and northeastern Louisiana, McAllister seemed on his way out. Wide media coverage of his extramarital cuddling led to equally widespread Republican calls for his ouster. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was particularly tough: “Congressman McAllister’s behavior is an embarrassment, and he should resign,” said Governor Jindal in a statement at the time.
McAllister didn’t quit. But he did indicate he would not run for reelection.
The media moved on. At least, the national media and, in particular, the cable news shoutfests moved on to other scandals. And with the spotlights off, McAllister began to rethink his future.
Now he’s saying that he will make a decision as to whether to run again by August, when candidates have to sign up. In fact, he told the local Alexandria News that he’s “leaning toward letting the people decide."
Meanwhile, potential foe Dasher says he’s got the support of the whole Robertson clan. They all got together for a family dinner and spent three hours praying on the matter last week, said Dasher.
“We’ve vetted [Zach] for 36 years,” said Al Robertson, Phil Robertson’s oldest son, according to the Alexandria News.
If there’s a lesson here, it’s that local politics can be a complicated story line. The Robertson clan has faced national criticism for its patriarch’s anti-gay views. Has this made its endorsement worth less? Meanwhile, McAllister is a rare House Republican who has come out in favor of expansion of Medicaid, which would help his disproportionately poor district. Will this boost his chances of scandal survival?
Then there’s the role played by Governor Jindal. He opposes Medicaid expansion. McAllister originally won office by beating a more establishment candidate that Jindal backed. Is revenge in play?
Tune in when the campaign season starts in earnest. As last week’s defeat of House majority leader Eric Cantor in Virginia shows, anything can happen in a low-turnout election. Meanwhile, coincidentally, the new Duck Dynasty season began last Wednesday. Jindal made a guest appearance. Its ratings were down sharply from Season 5.