Voters select nominees in Louisiana special election primary

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October 21, 2013


By Jennifer Springer

Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Political newcomer Vance McAllister (R) will take on two-term state Senator Neil Riser (R) after winning in the open primary election on October 19, 2013.[1][2] Riser managed to get nearly a third of the overall vote, 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]

Turnout for the open primary was low, with less than 22 percent of voters showing up at the polls.[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 was seen as the front-runner, having led in polls prior to the primary and campaign fundraising, and was widely expected to receive the most votes in the open primary.[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 star Phil Robertson.[10]

In a statement released on the night of the primary McAllister said, "I knew we worked hard. I did everything I could do, and it was in the Good Lord's hands. I'm kind of at a loss for words. I'm speechless. It's humbling to do know that this many people in this district can believe in somebody like that."[10]

Riser and McAllister will face off in the general election on November 16, 2013.[11]

U.S. House, Louisiana District 5 Special Election Open Primary, 2013
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngNeil Riser 32% 33,045
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngVance McAllister 17.8% 18,386
     Republican Clyde Holloway 10.9% 11,250
     Republican Phillip "Blake" Weatherly 0.5% 517
     Republican Jay Morris 6.9% 7,083
     Democratic Marcus Hunter 3% 3,088
     Democratic Robert Johnson 9.6% 9,971
     Democratic Jamie Mayo 14.8% 15,317
     Democratic Weldon Russell 2.5% 2,554
     Libertarian Henry Herford, Jr. 0.9% 886
     Libertarian S.B.A. Zaitoon 0.1% 129
     Green Eliot Barron 0.5% 492
     Independent Tom Gibbs 0.3% 324
     Independent Peter Williams 0.3% 335
Total Votes 103,377
Source: Official results via Louisiana Secretary of State

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