Vance McAllister qualifies for re-election to U.S. House seat

After being stuck in traffic and missing qualifying yesterday, U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister was waiting for the secretary of state to open the front doors Friday morning to sign the paperwork, pay the fees and officially begin his re-election campaign.

The Swartz Republican followed qualifying by donning a No. 23 jersey of retired New Orleans Saints running back Deuce McAllister — the candidate nicknamed a son after the running back — and took the ALS ice bucket challenge, daring the Democratic leader of the U.S. Senate to participate.

Seven minutes before the end of qualifying, former congressman Clyde Holloway, a Republican from Forest Hill, filed to run for the 5th Congressional District. Holloway is one of the five elected members of the Louisiana Public Service Commission and his PSC district overlaps much of the 5th District.

Rob Maness, a tea party favorite who retired from the U.S. Air Force and Entergy Corp., also signed up Friday to run for the U.S. Senate to the chants of a couple dozen supporters wearing yellow T-shirts saying “one of us.”

Friday was the third and final day that candidates for seats in Congress, judicial benches, the Public Service Commission, local government posts and other elected offices can add their names to the Nov. 4 ballot. The secretary of state counted 564 candidates in its unofficial end-of-the-day tally.

All the incumbent congressmen attracted challengers. The Baton Rouge-based seat that Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy is vacating to run for the U.S. Senate attracted 13 candidates.

Nine candidates filed to challenge McAllister.

McAllister said he added $400,000 of his own money to his campaign war chest last night. He pulled a wad of cash from his pocket and peeled off $900 to pay the fees.

Surrounded by news media and staff, McAllister joked about how few were on hand nine months ago when he qualified the first time to fill the unexpired portion of Rodney Alexander’s term.

As he walked into the lobby, McAllister was deluged with questions about the impact of the images of his kissing a married aide, which went worldwide, would have on his re-election effort. He brushed off the questions, admitting to his mistakes and saying he, if anyone, had credibility to discuss personal failings and rebuilding families. “Why not (answer the questions)? I don’t think I’m the first Christian to make a mistake,” McAllister said.

McAllister acknowledged that the incident attracted a lot of challengers but welcomed them into the race, saying democracy allowed for a lot of voices.

In addition to Jamie Mayo and Holloway, who are running for the 5th District seat as Democrats, Republicans Ed Tarpley, of Alexandria; Ralph Lee Abraham, of Archibald; and Harris Brown, of Monroe, filed.

Two others qualified Friday, Jeff Guerriero, of Monroe, as a Republican, Eliot Barron, of New Orleans, filed as a candidate for the Green Party, and Charles Saucier as a Libertarian from Ponchatoula.

McAllister argued his conservative bonafides, saying he backed closing the border but said elected officials need to be realistic.

He continues to oppose the federal Affordable Care Act. But, unlike his GOP challengers who say the law needs to be scrapped immediately, McAllister argues that the most efficient route is to make changes to the program.

After qualifying, McAllister took the ice bucket challenge to raise awareness for ALS, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or more commonly called Lou Gehrig’s Disease. In his challenge, McAllister said he would pay $1,000 if U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., would have ice water poured over him by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

“We got calls that it was a conspiracy,” McAllister said about being stuck on Interstate 110 Thursday afternoon, unable to get to the Secretary of State’s office in time.

The northeast and central Louisiana 5th Congressional District includes Monroe, Alexandria, parts of Acadiana and the Florida parishes that border Mississippi.

While saying he has good relationships with national Republicans, McAllister said he never was backed by the Louisiana Republican Party leaders, and in fact, they had never reached out to him.

Maness arrived with his wife and son to the chants of his supporters. He slid a letter to Deputy Secretary of State Joe Salter asking the office to investigate the residency of incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu. He says Landrieu has rented her home in New Orleans and therefore was no longer a Louisiana resident and legally unable to run for the U.S. Senate.

The secretary of state is not legally allowed to investigate residency challenges. But Maness could file a lawsuit or seek a district attorney to launch an investigation. Maness and his staff said they would let the public know when they would file a lawsuit.