Louisiana Republican candidates face off in runoff special election

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November 15, 2013

Louisiana

By Jennifer Springer

Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Political newcomer Vance McAllister (R) will take on two-term state Senator Neil Riser (R) tomorrow in the runoff special election for the 5th District seat.[1][2] Riser managed to get nearly a third of the overall vote in the October 19 special election, but was not able to pass the fifty percent threshold needed in order to win the seat outright. McAllister came in second in a field of thirteen other candidates with about eighteen percent of the overall vote.[1] Polls are open from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM Central Time.[3]

The special election is being held to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Rep. Rodney Alexander (R).[4] Gov. Bobby Jindal announced on August 7, 2013, that Alexander will take over as the next Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs.[4] Alexander's resignation was effective on September 26, 2013.[4]

In Louisiana, all candidates run on one primary ballot, regardless of party. If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote recipients advance to a runoff that determines the winner of the seat, regardless of party affiliation.[5] Because no candidate secured more than fifty percent of the vote in the primary, Riser and McAllister will face off in the runoff election to decide the winner of the seat.[5]

Louisiana's 5th Congressional District is a safe Republican district.[6] The 5th Congressional District is the largest geographically in the state, encompassing 22 parishes in the northeast and central parts of the state.[7]

State Senator Neil Riser is seen as the front-runner, leading in polls and campaign fundraising.[8] Several candidates accused Gov. Bobby Jindal and outgoing Rep. Rodney Alexander of tipping off Riser early to the fact that Alexander would step down from his seat on August 6, 2013. They say this allowed Riser to form a campaign team and start accumulating funds ahead of the rest of the candidate pool.[9] Riser, Alexander and Jindal's offices have all denied the claims.

McAllister was a surprise winner for second place, after pouring his own money into the race and having the support of the popular "Duck Dynasty" television series celebrity Phil Robertson.[10] Robertson's son, Willie Robertson, came out with a last minute television endorsement for McAllister on November 13.[11] McAllister also picked up an endorsement from Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Clyde Holloway on November 4, 2013.[12]

The winner will face re-election for a full term in 2014.

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