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Surprise in the Fifth

Nearly every political analyst expected state Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, to finish first in the special primary election in the 5th Congressional District. He did – getting 32% of the vote.

After all, he was backed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, outgoing 5th District U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, and GOP members of the Louisiana Congressional House delegation.

It was the candidate who came in second and earned a spot in the runoff that was surprising. Vance McAllister, a Republican and Monroe businessman, came out of nowhere to earn the right to challenge Riser in the runoff on November 16 by getting 18% of the vote.

Most of the attention had centered on, in addition to Riser, Republican state Rep. Jay Morris of Monroe and Republican Clyde Holloway, former U.S. Rep. and current Public Service Commissioner, of Forest Hill.

Then all was said and done, Jamie Mayo, Monroe’s African-American mayor, came in third with 15%. Holloway was fourth with 11%, and Morris was sixth with 7% in the 14-candidate field.

Riser, according to the latest reports, had raised and spent more than a half-million dollars on the race. But no reports were filed with the Federal Election Commission by McAllister, which could be an issue as the runoff progresses.

McAllister apparently made a substantial TV buy and ran ads that criticized incumbents in Congress. That strategy seemed to hit a chord with voters during the U.S. government shutdown.

But some political analysts say that McAllister also got a good boost from the endorsement of Phil Robertson, the star of the popular reality TV show Duck Dynasty.

The race in the 24-parish district in northeast and central Louisiana was not without controversy. Widespread allegations circulated that Jindal and Alexander conspired with Riser to give the funeral director from Columbia an advantage in the race.

Those allegations will likely continue to follow Riser as he now goes up against a perceived outsider – someone who does not hold a political office and has no ties to any current elected officials.

The eventual winner will fill out the remainder of Alexander’s U.S. House term, which expires in 2014.


Deer in headlights?

lou BurnettPity the poor staffer who allowed Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes to ambush Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander in his office while taping a segment for the popular CBS television program.

Kroft was investigating members of Congress who use political action committee funds to put family members on their campaign staffs. They are forbidden by law from having family members on their personal staffs.

But there is no law against a member paying a family member from campaign funds to do work for the member’s campaign. And that is what caught Kroft’s attention about Alexander.

He paid his two daughters a collective $130,000 over the course of the last re-election campaign.

Alexander appeared very uncomfortable with the questions being asked by Kroft. “What exactly did they do, can you tell me?” Kroft asked. Alexander responded, “They did everything that others do for other campaigns.”

Kroft pressed on: “To some people it just looks like you’re using your campaign funds to enrich your family.”

Alexander responded: “Well, somebody had to do that work. I kept it with somebody that I can trust. And if you can’t trust your daughters, then who can you trust?”

It was not a flattering piece on Alexander, who retired from Congress on September 27 and is now the Louisiana Secretary for Veterans Affairs.


You won’t believe this rumor

The local political rumor mill is running red hot with the news that former two-term Shreveport mayor Keith Hightower may be considering a return to Government Plaza.

Hightower did not return a phone call from the Fax-Net, but reliable sources report that he is being encouraged to run for mayor and is giving the idea some thought. In fact, he has indicated to prospective supporters that he will make a decision by January.

While many political analysts believe Shreveport may never have another white mayor, they do agree that it would take someone like Hightower to debunk that theory.

He is a Democrat, who in previous races for mayor, drew significant support from Republicans and black leaders even though their were viable blacks on the ballot.

It was not too long ago that, in a conversation with Hightower, he emphatically said he would never run for mayor again. But, politicians can change their minds.

His entry into the mayor’s race would make it one of the more interesting in Shreveport history. Mayor Cedric Glover, the city’s first black mayor serving his second term, is term-limited.

Blacks who will likely run for mayor include state Rep. Patrick Williams, City Councilman Sam Jenkins, and state Rep. Roy Burrell. Commissioner Michael Williams has said he is interested. And Maxine Sarpy is being encouraged by state Sen. Greg Tarver to enter the race.

Therefore, these Shreveport mayor wannabes will be anxiously awaiting Hightower’s decision.

Currently, there are 129,305 registered voters in the city of Shreveport. Of that total, 56,339 or 43.6% are white, 67,676 or 52.3% are black, and 5,289 or 4.1% are other races.


Other area results

Bossier Parish – Republican Frank Kelly defeated Jill S. Frost, Other Party, by a 65-35% margin to capture the District 3 seat on the Bossier Parish School Board.

Caddo Parish – Assistant District Attorney Brady O’Callaghan won easily over attorney Mike Miller for the vacant seat on the Caddo District Court.

With the backing of District Attorney Charles Rex Scott, Caddo Sheriff Steve Prator, and other power politicians, O’Callaghan garnered 65% of the vote.

It is no surprise that the name “Bowman” is magical in Caddo Commission District 5. The late Joyce Bowman was popular and loved by everyone who knew her.

So it was that her son, Jerald, easily won the election to replace her on the Commission. He defeated Earnestine Coleman by a 79-21% margin.

Town of Blanchard – Republican Jeff Guin defeated Republican Steve Umling for the alderman’s seat by a 58-42% margin.

City of Minden – For the first time in more than 20 years, Minden has a new mayor. Republican Tommy Davis won the special election to replace the late Bill Robertson.

Davis, with 61%, defeated two opponents – interim Mayor Joe Cornelius Sr. (D), who had 22%, and Walter “WOO” Morgan Jr. (D), who had 17%.

In the race for the Minden District A councilman seat, Democrat Wayne Edwards defeated Republican Darrell Morris by an 86-14% margin.

Town of Cullen – Ray Mills, No Party, was elected mayor with 63% of the vote. Democrat Floydean White had 22% and Gary Sullivan, Other Party, was third with 15%.


Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of national and local politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter.

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