Following a period of "much thought and prayer," embattled Rep. Vance McAllister on Monday announced he has decided to go ahead with his reelection bid, despite surveillance footage that surfaced in April exposing his lengthy liplock with a married staffer.
"This district has been home to me and my family all of my life," the Louisiana Republican said in a statement. "I know the needs of this congressional district very well. I also know that this district needs a strong, conservative voice in Congress. I plan to continue to stand up for our veterans, bring common sense solutions to our nation's problems and most importantly I will fight to get our fiscal house back in order."
In security camera video obtained by a local newspaper, McAllister - who ahead of his election last fall ran multiple campaign ads plugging his faith and family - is seen kissing and embracing his then-scheduler for about 20 seconds at his Monroe district office.
Amid calls for him to step down from political heavyweights like Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., McAllister in the wake of the scandal said he would not seek reelection. He recently began to suggest an about-face, though, amid poll numbers that showed him leading a potential field in November.
McAllister told the local News-Star newspaper he doesn't expect to broach the controversy during his campaign: "I've publicly apologized to the people in the 5th District and more importantly worked through it with my family," he said. "I've said all I'm going to say about it. Now it's up to the voters."
The polls that initially induced McAllister to reconsider vying for a job he once said "sucks" were conducted before contentious "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson's nephew added his name to the mounting list of candidates competing for the Louisiana seat. Zach Dasher, a 36-year-old conservative who's never run for office, announced that he'd rally his bid around the ultimate ambition of injecting "God" into the "elite political class" currently occupying Capitol Hill.
It's a curious case of worlds colliding: McAllister's victory in the special election last fall was realized in no small part to support from the "Duck Dynasty" clan. And earlier this year, he drummed up considerable chatter when he brought Willie Robertson to the State of the Union despite backlash over Phil Robertson's disparaging remarks about same-sex marriage.
McAllister told a Louisiana outlet there are no hard feelings if the Robertsons opt to support Dasher: "They wouldn't be the people I know them to be if they didn't support someone from their family," he said.