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Letlow was elected to represent the 5th District in December runoff
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
SHREVEPORT (CFP) — Less than a month after winning a hard-fought runoff to claim a seat in Congress, Louisiana Republican U.S. Rep.-elect Luke Letlow has died from complications from COVID-19, becoming the first member or prospective member of Congress claimed by the pandemic.
Letlow, 41, died Tuesday at Ochsner LSU Health in Shreveport, where he was admitted last week after his condition worsened. He had announced on December 18 that he had tested positive and was admitted to a hospital in Monroe the next day.
The Monroe Star News reported that Letlow died from a heart attack while undergoing a procedure to treat his COVID infection but had no underlying heart issues.
Letlow’s death came just five days before he was to be sworn in as a congressman on Sunday. He is survived by his wife, Julia, and two young children. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Before his election to Congress, Letlow had served as chief-of-staff for Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham. After Abraham announced his retirement in March, Letlow ran to be his replacement in the 5th District, which covers 24 parishes in northeast and central Louisiana.
With Abraham’s endorsement, Letlow had come in first place in November’s all-party jungle primary. In the December runoff, he defeated Republican State Rep. Lance Harris, capturing 62% of the vote.
His death will trigger a special election in the 5th District. Governor John Bel Edwards has set the election for March 20, to coincide with other state elections and another special election in metro New Orleans to replace Democratic U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, who is leaving the House to join the Biden administration.
The 5th District is heavily Republican, making it likely that another Republican will replace Letlow. Abraham has said he does not plan to be a candidate.
Edwards released a statement saying he was “heartbroken that [Letlow] will not be able to serve our people as a U.S. representative, but I am even more devastated for his loving family.”
The Louisiana congressional delegation also released a statement saying that Letlow “had such a positive spirit, and a tremendously bright future ahead of him. He was looking forward to serving the people of Louisiana in Congress, and we were excited to welcome him to our delegation where he was ready to make an even greater impact on our state and our Nation.”
In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Letlow “fought passionately for his point of view and dedicated his life to public service.”
“As the House grieves Congressman-elect Letlow’s passing, our sorrow is compounded by the grief of so many other families who have also suffered lives cut short by this terrible virus,” Pelosi said.
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Kelly McAllister says her husband, U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister, “owns up to his mistakes”
MONROE, Louisiana (CFP) — The wife of embattled U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister is appearing in a new television as the Louisiana Republican battles to keep his seat after an embarrassing video surfaced last April showing him kissing a female staffer.
“A man’s character is based on how many times he gets back up and stands again,” Kelly McAllister says in the ad. “I’m blessed to have a husband who owns up to his mistakes, never gives up, always fighting for the good people of Louisiana.”
McAllister himself opens the video, saying that “life is filled with ups and downs.”
McAllister, 40, a Christian conservative and father of five, was elected to the 5th District seat in a special election last November in his first bid for political office. After the video surfaced, he announced he would not seek re-election, but he later changed his mind and filed to run again.
To go back to Washington, he will have to defeat five Republicans and a Democrat who have filed to run against him, including Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, the Democrat, and former Republican U.S. Rep. Clyde Holloway, a member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission.
The crowded field could help McAllister because of Louisiana’s unique jungle primary system. All seven candidates run in the same race in November, with the top two vote-getters facing each other in a runoff in December if nobody wins a majority.
Click here to watch the commercial.
McAllister’s exit comes after video surfaced showing him kissing a female staffer outside his district office
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitcs.com editor
MONROE, Louisiana (CFP) — Three weeks after video surfaced showing him passionately kissing a female staffer, embattled Republican U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister has announced that he won’t seek re-election this fall.
However, despite calls from leading Louisiana Republicans and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor for his resignation, McAllister is vowing to serve out the remainder of his term.
“The people of the Fifth District of Louisiana need and deserve a voice in Washington,” McAllister said in a statement released April 28. “Today, I am announcing that I will not seek re-election, but I will continue to be that voice and will uphold the office to which I was elected to serve for the remainder of my term.”
“As I’ve said before, there’s no doubt I’ve made a mistake. I’ve failed those I care most about and let down the people who elected me to represent them. I take full responsibility for this personal failure, and I’m truly sorry for what I’ve done.”
The decision to hang on to his office ran into immediate opposition from Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House, who met with McAllister and told him he needed to resign, Politico reported.
McAllister, 40, a Christian conservative and married father of five, was elected to the vacant 5th District seat last November in his first bid for political office.
Governor Bobby Jindal and Louisiana’s GOP chairman call on McAllister to leave Congress after being caught on tape kissing a staffer
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
MONROE, Louisiana (CFP) — Two top leaders in U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister’s own Republican Party are calling for him resign over a video showing showing the married father of five kissing a female staffer outside of his congressional office in Monroe.
“Congressman McAllister’s behavior is an embarrassment,” Jindal said in a statement. “He says he wants privacy to work on his issues with his family. The best way to get privacy and work on putting his family back together is to resign from Congress.”
Villere was even more scathing, saying McAllister’s “extreme hypocrisy is an example of why ordinary people are fed up with politics.”
“A breach of trust of this magnitude can only be rectified by an immediate resignation. He has embarrassed our party, our state and the institution of Congress,” Villere said.
The video was first published by The Ouachita Citizen, a newspaper in West Monroe, which said it had obtained it from an anonymous source. The video came from a surveillance camera in the building housing McAllister’s district office.
After the newspaper posted the video, McAllister issued a public apology.
“There’s no doubt I’ve fallen short,” McAllister said. “I’m asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff and my constituents.”
“I promise to do everything I can to earn back the trust of everyone I’ve disappointed,” he added, asking that his children be given privacy “as we get through this.”
In a subsequent interview with the Monroe News-Star, McAllister said he had no plans to resign and would seek re-election this fall.
The newspaper identified the female in the video as Melissa Peacock, a scheduler on McAllister’s district staff. Her husband, Heath Peacock, a campaign contributor and former co-worker of the congressman, told CNN that he is “devastated” by the video and plans to divorce his wife.
“I feel like I’m going to wake up here in a minute, and this is all going to be a bad nightmare,” Peacock said.
It is unknown who leaked the video. McAllister considered but eventually dropped the idea of requesting an FBI investigation into who provided the video to the newspaper.
McAllister, 40, a businessman from Swartz, was a political unknown when he elected to represent Louisiana’s 5th District in a special election in November, during which he portrayed himself as a Christian family man.
Watch the video:
McAllister easily beats fellow Republican State Senator Neil Riser in 5th District runoff
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
MONROE, Louisiana (CFP) — Armed with an endorsement from the stars of Duck Dynasty, Republican businessman and political newcomer Vance McAllister easily won a special election for a vacant U.S. House seat in Louisiana.
McAllister, 39, from Swartz, beat Republican State Senator Neil Riser, 51, of Columbia, by a 60-40 percent margin in the November 16 runoff. He will replace GOP U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, who resigned his seat after he was appointed by Governor Bobby Jindal to head the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs.
Riser had finished first in the first round of voting on October 19, with 32 percent of the vote, setting up a runoff with McAllister, who captured 18 percent. Under Louisiana’s blanket primary system, candidates from all parties run in the same primary, which set up the battle between two Republicans in the heavily GOP district.
The 5th District takes in 24 parishes in northeastern and central Louisiana, including some parishes along the Mississippi River east of Baton Rouge.
Alexander, first elected as a Democrat in 2002, switched to the GOP in 2004. McAllister’s election keeps Louisiana’s House delegation steady at six Republicans and one Democrat.
Riser had the backing of Alexander and the state GOP establishment. But McAllister fought back by pouring more than $400,000 of his own money into the race and enlisting support from Willie and Jep Robertson, family friends and stars of the popular A&E series.
Both Robertsons cut ads for McAllister that aired during the runoff campaign.