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'Kissing congressman' won't seek re-election

BATON ROUGE, La. – Louisiana GOP Rep. Vance McAllister won’t seek re-election this fall after being caught on video kissing a married female aide, but he’ll serve out the remainder of his term, his chief of staff said Monday.

Top Republicans in the state, who had called McCallister’s behavior embarrassing and hypocritical, welcomed the news.

“While we still believe the best course of action would have been for Congressman McAllister to resign so he can focus on his family, we are pleased Congressman McAllister and constituents in the district can begin the process of putting this unfortunate situation behind them,” GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal said in a statement.

Likewise, state Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere said that while he would have liked to see McAllister “close this chapter sooner, I was happy to hear of his decision to do what is best for his family and his constituents.”

McAllister chief of staff Adam Terry told the Associated Press on Monday that the Louisiana congressman, married and the father of five children, intends to complete his term. But the freshman lawmaker, in office fewer than six months, will not be on the November ballot.

A grainy security tape released earlier this month by a north Louisiana newspaper showed McAllister kissing Melissa Peacock, an aide and family friend, in the congressman’s district headquarters.

McAllister apologized and Peacock resigned, along with the congressman’s district director who was suspected of releasing the video. But top Republican officials in the state, including Jindal, called on the congressman to step down.

McAllister has stayed out of public sight since the scandal erupted, canceling events for therapy sessions and saying he was spending time with his family during Congress’ Easter recess. He could not immediately be reached Monday for comment about his decision.

Before boarding a plane for Washington with his wife Kelly, McAllister told The News-Star he was “committed to serving the 5th District to the best of my ability through this term, but I also have to take care of my family as we work together to repair and strengthen the relationship I damaged.”

A businessman with no political experience, McAllister won a special election in November 2013 to represent the district centered in the state’s northeast and central parishes, surprising the GOP by handily defeating the Republican establishment candidate.

He put his family and his faith at the center of his campaign for Congress, appearing with his wife and their children in one commercial and vowing to “defend our Christian way of life” if elected.

To win the seat, McAllister largely self-financed his election bid and got a boost from endorsements by his most famous constituents, the Robertson men of the cable TV hit “Duck Dynasty.”

But he had few allies within his party to whom he could turn once the scandal broke.

A spokeswoman for former Rep. Rodney Alexander, whose resignation for a seat in Jindal’s cabinet forced the 2013 special election won by McAllister, said Monday that he will not seek election to Congress.

State Rep. Robert Johnson, a Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for the seat against McAllister, continued to call for the congressman to resign Monday, saying he has been neglecting his office’s responsibilities during the scandal.

“He’s not doing his job. He isn’t communicating with other elected officials. He isn’t communicating with his constituents. For all practical purposes, the people of our district are without representation in the United States Congress,” Johnson said in a statement.

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