Vance McAllister Kisses Congress Goodbye

The Louisiana Republican won’t seek reelection, but doesn’t plan to resign.

National Journal
Sarah Mimms and Elahe Izadi
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Sarah Mimms and Elahe Izadi
April 28, 2014, 10:06 a.m.

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.

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