BATON ROUGE, La. - A nephew of "Duck Dynasty's" Phil Robertson says he is running for the Louisiana congressional seat held by Vance McAllister, who was elected with the TV family's support and later was wrapped up in scandal when video surfaced showing him kissing a married staffer.
Zach Dasher, a 36-year-old Republican who has never run for office, said in a statement Monday announcing his candidacy for the Nov. 4 election that he opposed the federal health overhaul and abortion and supports a constitutional amendment requiring that Congress balance the budget.
"I got to looking around at the problems in politics today, and what I see in Washington, D.C., is no God. There is no God. The elite political class thinks they can be running our lives," he said in an interview with The Associated Press.
"I think there's a vacuum in D.C. of people who understand where rights come from. Rights don't come from men. They come from God."
McAllister initially said he would not seek re-election after the security video became public in April, but he's been less definitive recently, saying he'll make a decision by the August candidate sign-up period.
Dasher said his decision wasn't influenced by what happened with McAllister. He said he met with his extended family, including the stars of the A&E show, at cousin Al Robertson's home to discuss the congressional race. Dasher's mom is the sister of Phil and Silas "Uncle Si" Robertson.
"We sat down as a family this past week when we were deciding what we wanted to do. Being that closely connected, this is about them, too," Dasher said. "We got our bellies full and then we sat around in a big circle and then we prayed. We prayed about this candidacy that this would be something real. And the family was really excited."
He said he expects the famous members of his family to be involved in his campaign.
Phil Robertson, the "Duck Dynasty" patriarch, was briefly suspended from the series over controversial remarks he made calling homosexuality a sin and suggesting same-sex rights would pave the way for practices like bestiality. But in an interview with The News-Star, Phil's oldest son Al Robertson suggested Dasher's ready for prime time.
"We've vetted (Zach) for 36 years," he said.
Dasher said he's worked in the pharmaceutical industry and in real estate. He said he's taken an unpaid leave of absence from the biotech company where he worked to campaign for the 5th District seat.
Unlike McAllister, who paid for much of his campaign out of his own pocket, Dasher said he won't be self-funding his bid for office.
Oddly enough, this isn't the first time McAllister and the "Duck Dynasty" family have shared news: Earlier this year, the Louisiana congressman drummed up considerable chatter when he brought as his State of the Union guest Willie Robertson despite backlash surrounding the elder Robertson's disparaging remarks about same-sex marriage.
The 5th District covers all or part of 24 parishes, from northeast and central Louisiana into southeastern parishes bordering Mississippi.
Other announced candidates so far include: Harris Brown, a Republican businessman from Monroe; Ed Tarpley of Alexandria, a Republican and former Grant Parish district attorney; and Clay Grant, a Libertarian from Boyce.