Edwards Earns Runoff Spot; Kiss McAllister Goodbye

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The short, promising congressional career of Republican Vance McAllister came to an abrupt halt in Tuesday's elections in Louisiana, while the long and storied political career of Edwin Edwards was, at least temporarily, resurrected.

         McAllister, a married, family values Republican, lost the 5th District seat he was elected to less than a year ago after a video surfaced early this year showing him kissing another woman.

         Edwards, the four-term governor and thrice-married ladies' man, earned a runoff spot in the 6th District. He had to overcome a more serious scandal — his 2000 corruption conviction and subsequent prison term.

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         That he has, at least for now, made for good headlines Tuesday but neither his success nor McAllister's defeat appear likely to do much to change Louisiana's congressional layout.

         Monroe's Democratic Mayor, Jamie Mayo, will face Republican physician Ralph Abraham in the Dec. 6 runoff in northeast Louisiana's 5th District, which has been a reliably Republican district for years. In the 6th, Edwards will face former state coastal restoration chief Garret Graves in a Baton Rouge-area district that has gone reliably Republican in the last two presidential races.

         Edwards was undaunted as he addressed supporters Tuesday night with his wife, Trina — five decades his junior and the mother of their toddler son — standing beside him.

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         "On the 7th day of December I'll address you as the congressman from the 6th District of Louisiana," Edwards said.

         Graves finished ahead of a divided Republican field that included state Sen. Dan Claitor, businessman Paul Dietzel and state Rep. Lenar Whitney. All sought to replace incumbent Republican Bill Cassidy, who is running for the Senate seat held by Democrat Mary Landrieu.

         In the 5th District, Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, a Democrat, earned a runoff spot against physician Ralph Abraham, who edged out other Republicans including Zach Dasher, a relative of the "Duck Dynasty" reality TV family.

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         The state's other four House races were milder affairs in which incumbents faced no well-known opposition. Republicans Steve Scalise in the 1st District, Charles Boustany in the 3rd and John Fleming in the 4th and Democrat Cedric Richmond in the 2nd all won easily on Tuesday.

         Edwards staked out notably centrist views in the 6th District race, in contrast to his Republican opponents. He backed same-sex civil unions (but not gay marriage); supported a minimum wage increase; favored the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act even as he voiced complaints about the act overall.

         Rounding out the field were Republicans Robert Bell, Craig McCulloch and Trey Thomas; Libertarian Rufus Craig Jr.; Democrats Richard Lieberman and Peter Williams.

         McAllister was considered something of a dragon slayer last November when he won a race to fill the unexpired term of another Republican, Rodney Alexander.

         Louisiana's GOP establishment had backed another candidate, but McAllister ultimately won, casting himself as a conservative Christian GOP member who would reach across the aisle to work with Democrats. But, the kissing scandal immediately blunted his credibility and political momentum. McAllister spurned calls for his resignation. At first said he would finish his term and not seek re-election. Then he changed his mind. Observers thought a runoff was a possibility for him but it became apparent early as returns came in that his support had diminished.

         – by AP Reporter Kevin McGill

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