Rep. Vance McAllister (R) of Louisiana, the “kissing congressman” who was caught on surveillance tape smooching a (married) staffer, has decided to run for reelection after all. He made his decision public during a series of local interviews and a press conference at an American Legion Hall in his district.
“I wanted to make sure everything was good with our family,” Representative McAllister told the Monroe, La., News Star. “Our family is stronger than ever, so I think the people should decide whether or not I continue to represent them.”
McAllister added that, as far as he was concerned, he was finished talking about his extramarital lip-locking.
“I’ve publicly apologized to the people in the Fifth District and more importantly worked through it with my family,” he said to the News Star. “I’ve said all I’m going to say about it. Now it’s up to the voters.”
Wow, does McAllister have any hope here? After all, he is going back on his word. Back in April, after the surveillance tape leaked to the media, he said he would not run for reelection in 2014.
At the time, pretty much every figure in the state Republican Party, including Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), issued statements calling on him to resign immediately, if not sooner. Plus, his most important patron has since turned on him. An endorsement from “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson helped him gain office in 2012 over better-known candidates. Now the coveted Robertson clan nod will likely go to Zach Dasher, Phil Robertson’s nephew, who’s thrown his own duck call into the ring as a candidate.
It’s true that Louisiana politicians have survived similar predicaments. Sen. David Vitter (R) won reelection in 2010 despite the fact that a phone number linked to him appeared in the publicly released records of the D.C. Madam. But Senator Vitter had the support of the state GOP establishment. McAllister doesn’t. In fact, the kissing congressman is something of a party maverick – he’s indicated he is for expansion of Medicaid, for example, which could help many of his poorer constituents but is at odds with GOP party doctrine. So he’ll face widespread, organized primary opposition.
Voters generally say extramarital dalliances won’t make much difference in their choice of candidates. Last year a Business Insider poll found that only about 28 percent of respondents said such an affair would make a difference in their votes.
But it’s one thing to say that in the abstract and another to actually make that choice in the voting booth, with names attached. Given the evidence in the McAllister case, the dalliance will be far from abstract by the time the election occurs. It will have been plastered all over local TV.
“So Vance McAllister really just wants to see if his primary opponent will use that security video in an ad, right?” tweeted Washington Post political reporter Aaron Blake earlier Monday.
That’s what we think could well be fatal to McAllister’s ambitions.