BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Louisiana congressman whose re-election is threatened by a cheating scandal is putting his marriage front and center in the campaign.
Republican U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister released his first TV ad in the 5th District race Monday, prominently featuring his wife Kelly.
In the 30-second spot, McAllister describes his "wonderful, Christian wife," while his wife describes feeling blessed because her husband "owns up to his mistakes." The pair never talks directly about McAllister's infidelity in the ad, but it's the obvious undertone.
"Life is filled with ups and downs," McAllister says. His wife, sitting by his side, adds: "But a man's character is based on how many times he gets back up and stands again."
In office less than a year, McAllister's re-election is uncertain after a security video leaked in April showing the father of five kissing a married staffer who was not his wife. The staffer resigned after the video surfaced.
Republican leaders called on McAllister to resign, but he refused. Seen as vulnerable in his northeast Louisiana-based district, the GOP incumbent faces eight challengers on the Nov. 4 ballot.
He's running without support from his own party, but McAllister said he's running because his wife encouraged him to seek re-election. He said the campaign ad was his wife's idea.
"She wanted me to continue to fight. She said, 'Let's let the people of the district know that we're stronger than we were before, and we're OK,'" McAllister said. "She's not some politician's wife propped up like a stick, smiling in the background. She wasn't going to be decor. We're a team. And we're going to move forward as a team."
Polls suggest McAllister, from the small town of Swartz, has a significant shot at making the Dec. 6 runoff among the crowded field. But he's lost some of his most well-known supporters from his last campaign.
Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, a Democrat who supported McAllister in last year's runoff, is running against him. The bearded men of TV's "Duck Dynasty" who helped draw attention to McAllister last year have abandoned him for family member and candidate Zach Dasher.
Meanwhile, amid lackluster fundraising, McAllister's had to pour thousands of his own money into the race, just like he did when he was a political unknown in the 2013 special election that brought him to Washington.
McAllister's campaign says the new TV ad will run around the district, with a $75,000 media buy.