Three weeks after video footage showing him kissing a staffer leaked to the press, Republican Rep. Vance McAllister of Louisiana announced Monday that he won't seek another term in office.
McAllister—dubbed "the kissing congressman"—told the Monroe, La., News-Star that he and his wife Kelly reached the decision Monday. "I am committed to serving the 5th District to the best of my ability through this term, but I also have to take care of my family as we work together to repair and strengthen the relationship I damaged," McAllister said.
The first-term congressman and his wife will be in Washington Monday as the House returns from recess, "because she knows it's going to be a firestorm when I get there and she didn't want me to face it alone," McAllister told the paper.
The announcement comes after top state Republicans, including Gov. Bobby Jindal, called for McAllister to resign.
House Speaker John Boehner never explicitly called on McAllister to step down, leaving it up to the freshman to make his own decision. "I expect all members to be held to the highest ethical standards, and this is no different.... He's got decisions that he has to make," Boehner said earlier this month.
McAllister was elected to Congress just last November in a hotly contested race for retiring Rep. Rodney Alexander's seat. State Sen. Neil Riser, the establishment pick who lost to McAllister in a runoff, could run again in November. Riser had the backing of Jindal, Alexander, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, among others.
Alexander, who resigned in August to take a job in the Jindal administration, has not ruled out running for Congress again. "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," he told his local paper not long after the scandal broke.
The filing deadline for candidates is Aug. 22 to make it on to the November ballot. Louisiana has a "jungle primary" system in which candidates from all parties compete in a single general election, with a runoff slated for Dec. 6 if no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote.
Luckily for Republicans, McAllister's district is solidly red. Louisiana State Rep. Jay Morris and Louisiana businessman Harris Brown have expressed interest in the seat.
McAllister will have one of the shortest congressional careers in state history, with the 15th shortest tenure since Louisiana officially became a state, according to Smart Politics. Assuming he leaves office in January, McAllister will have served 413 days in Congress.
The congressman's office released this full statement from McAllister Monday afternoon:
The past few weeks have been a trying time for my family. As I've said before, there's no doubt I've made a mistake. I've failed those I care most about and let down the people who elected me to represent them. I take full responsibility for this personal failure and I'm truly sorry for what I've done. I have taken this time to reconcile with my wife and kids and I'm forever grateful for their support and forgiveness. The people of the Fifth District of Louisiana need and deserve a voice in Washington. Today, I am announcing that I will not seek re-election, but I will continue to be that voice and will uphold the office to which I was elected to serve for the remainder of my term.
This article appears in the April 29, 2014 edition of NJ Daily.
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