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Louisiana U.S. House: Edwards still in, “Kissing Congressman” out

Edwin Edwards, the disgraced former governor, makes runoff, but U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister’s re-election bid falls short

By Rich Shumate, editor

louisiana mugBATON ROUGE (CFP) — Former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards, a larger-than-life politician who spent eight years behind bars for corruption, has earned a spot in the runoff for the 6th District U.S. House seat.

U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister

U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister

But in the adjoining 5th District, U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister, who refused calls for his resignation after a video surfaced in April showing him passionately kissing a female staffer, finished fourth in Louisiana’s November 4 jungle primary, getting just 11 percent of the vote.

After the video surfaced, McAllister, a conservative Christian and married father of five first elected to the House in 2013, announced he wouldn’t seek re-election. But he later changed his mind, and his wife appeared in a TV ad on his behalf.

Former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards

Former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards

Edwards, 87, finished first in 6th District primary with 30 percent of the vote in a crowded field that included two fellow Democrats and eight Republicans. He will now face Republican Garret Graves, the former chairman of the state’s coastal protection authority, in the December 6 runoff.

The district, which takes in much of the southeastern part of the state including most of Baton Rouge, is strongly Republican, which will make Graves a prohibitive favorite in the runoff.

Still, getting into the runoff was a political triumph for the colorful octogenarian, who starred in a television reality show in 2013 with his third wife, Trina, who is 51 years his junionr.

Edwards served a record four terms as Louisiana’s governor between 1972 and 1996. In 1991, after being acquitted of federal corruption charges, he won a runoff against white supremacist David Duke. During that campaign, a popular bumper sticker urged Louisianians to “Vote For the Crook. It’s Important.”

In 2001, Edwards was convicted on 17 counts of bribery, extortion, fraud and racketeering stemming from his last terms as governor. he served eight years in prison.

As a convicted felon, Edwards is barred from seeking state office. But there is no prohibition on convicted felons seeking federal office.

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