James Gill: McAllister can’t stump on family values now

The first time Vance McAllister, R-Swartz, said being a congressman “sucks,” his audience at the Monroe Chamber of Commerce did not commence snickering and elbowing one another in the ribs.

That was in January, a few weeks after he won a special election.

By the time he repeated the remark in April, however, wisenheimers could say he sure knew what he was talking about, having been caught on a surveillance tape sucking face with a staffer who is married to one of his friends from childhood.

McAllister announced that he would not seek re-election this fall, but GOP bigwigs wanted him out of there lickety split. Among those urging his immediate resignation was House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia.

Fortunes have changed since then. Cantor just became the tea party’s latest scalp, losing a primary election in Virginia.

The consequent shake-up in the GOP leadership turned out well for Louisiana. Cantor will be replaced by Kevin McCarthy, of California, whose job as chief whip will go to our Steve Scalise.

McAllister may well be among those Scalise will have to keep in line, because he announced he would be a candidate for re-election after all, when an opinion poll put him in first place just ahead of state Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, whom he beat in the runoff last fall.

It has long been apparent that an extramarital dalliance need not dash political aspirations in Louisiana. The most famous philanderer of them all, Edwin Edwards, not only got elected governor four times but is now running for the vacant congressional seat in an adjoining district, where, as the most prominent Democrat in a large field of Republicans, he is expected to make the runoff.

The only Democrat in Louisiana’s current House delegation is Cedric Richmond, of New Orleans, who is a star of the annual baseball game between congressional Democrats and Republicans.

Edwards, as the only ex-con in a large field of non-offenders, is not expected to get elected to Congress, but Richmond probably wouldn’t have asked him to suit up anyway. Edwards turns 87 next month, and if there is one thing he is guaranteed not to steal from here on in, it is a base.

Scalise and McAllister both turned out for this year’s game last month. McAllister drove in two runs off a Richmond pitch, which may have made him feel more at home in Washington, where he had never set foot before his election. A couple of days later he was a candidate once again.

He wasn’t supposed to win last time. The seat became vacant when Rodney Alexander resigned to take a cushy job with the Bobby Jindal administration, and Riser’s campaign hit the ground running. A GOP set-up was widely suspected, which may have redounded in McAllister’s favor.

It certainly didn’t hurt, either, when he came out four-square for Jesus and the domestic hearth, but the clincher may have been an endorsement from “Duck Dynasty.”

McAllister seemed to acknowledge as much when he took Willie Robertson to the State of the Union address. This time round, however, the Robertsons will not be in McAllister’s corner, because Willie’s cousin is running for the seat too. Cousin will have to run hard if he is to live up to his name, which is Zach Dasher. Given that Jindal adores “Duck Dynasty,” maybe he will stump for Dasher.

Jindal, and state GOP boss Roger Villere, joined Cantor in urging McAllister to quit, although his moral lapse was hardly the only knock against him.

McAllister not only says Jindal is wrong to decline federal money for Medicaid expansion, but denounced last year’s government shutdown as a dumb way to combat Obamacare. The establishment will be most eager to find a candidate to beat him.

Since McAllister will presumably have to give the “family values” folderol a rest this time round, he is evidently reduced to running on his record in Congress.

That sucks.

James Gill’s email address is jgill@theadvocate.com.