Election sign-up continues into second day

by Walter Pierce

Qualifying continues through Friday.

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Trying to rebound after a cheating scandal, U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister faces a crowded field of candidates vying to oust him, with his fifth opponent signing up Thursday for the Nov. 4 election.

Zach Dasher, a relative of the "Duck Dynasty" reality TV clan, said he will "fight to dismantle the federal takeover of states' rights and restore God back to Congress," as he officially qualified for the northeast Louisiana-based 5th District race.

A Republican who has never run for office, Dasher acknowledged his famous family's support has drawn attention for him. But the nephew of "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson said his political philosophy is what should get him elected to office.

"Does being related to 'Duck Dynasty' and being Phil's nephew, does that qualify me to be a congressman? No, it doesn't. It qualifies me to be a great duck hunter, and I am that. But in terms of running for Congress, that just gives me a platform. What I'm running on is to return the rights to the states and individuals. We have a federal government that's out of control," Dasher said.

McAllister was elected to office in last year's special election with support from the stars of the A&E show, but that was before the cheating scandal.

A security video leaked in April showed McAllister kissing a married former staffer who was not his wife. Republican leaders called on McAllister to resign, but he refused.

McAllister was planning to submit his paperwork and pay his qualifying fee Thursday afternoon.

The 5th District covers all or part of 24 parishes, from northeast and central Louisiana into southeastern parishes bordering Mississippi.

Other candidates who have signed up for the race Wednesday include Ralph Abraham, a Republican doctor from Mangham; Harris Brown, a Republican businessman from Monroe; Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, a Democrat in office for 13 years; and Ed Tarpley of Alexandria, a Republican and former Grant Parish district attorney.

An even larger group of candidates is jockeying for the open 6th District congressional seat representing the Baton Rouge area. Eleven people had filed paperwork by Thursday to run for the position, which is open because Republican Bill Cassidy is running for the U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu.

Qualifying continues through Friday.

In addition to McAllister, the state's four other incumbent congressmen all had qualified for their races by the second day of the sign-up period, including Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, who was chosen in June for the No. 3 leadership position in the House.

Scalise showed up Thursday with his new security detail in tow.

"I've got a seat at the leadership table to promote not just what's best for Louisiana, but for the whole country," he said.