BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Republican congressional candidate Vance McAllister picked up the backing Tuesday of the third-place finisher in the 5th District race, Democratic Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo.
Mayo told The Associated Press that he is endorsing McAllister in the Nov. 16 runoff against Republican Neil Riser, a state senator. The Monroe mayor said McAllister, a political newcomer, appeared more willing to work with people of both parties in Congress.
"I think, quite frankly, Neil would go to Washington and be part of the problem, would join right in on being divisive and destructive, and that's not going to be good for the 5th Congressional District, and it's not good for the entire state," Mayo said.
"We need someone who can reach across the aisle and build coalitions and represent everybody, and I believe Vance McAllister is the person to do that," he said.
Support from Mayo could be a boost to McAllister's campaign, helping him draw support from Democrats and independents in the all-Republican runoff election. Mayo is a well-known figure in the Monroe area, among Democrats and in the black community.
Riser spokesman Ryan Cross dismissed concerns about Mayo's endorsement, saying the state senator and the Monroe mayor don't share the same political views. Instead, Cross touted the campaign's notification Tuesday that Riser was endorsed by the National Rifle Association.
Cross also disputed Mayo's assessment that Riser wouldn't work across party lines if elected to Congress. Cross said Riser has worked with Republicans and Democrats in the Louisiana Legislature.
"Neil has a proven track record of being able to reach across the aisle, but he refuses to compromise on his conservative values and principals at the same time," Cross said.
Riser, a Republican from Columbia, has been the front-runner in the campaign since the special election was called in August to fill the seat vacated by Rodney Alexander, a Republican who left Congress to take a job in Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration.
McAllister's ability to make the runoff was the surprise. A political unknown only two months ago, he managed to distinguish himself among a pack of 14 candidates, including six elected officials.
The self-made businessman poured more than $350,000 of his own cash into the race and got a sizable attention boost with the support of the highly popular "Duck Dynasty" television series star, Phil Robertson.
Riser received support from 32 percent of voters while McAllister had 18 percent in the open primary election. Mayo took 15 percent of the vote, and he said he hopes to persuade his supporters to back McAllister.
"I'll be active over these next couple weeks in helping him in whatever way he needs me to," Mayo said.
The 5th District covers all or part of 24 parishes, from northeast and central Louisiana into southeastern parishes bordering Mississippi.