BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister started his sign-up for re-election Friday the same as any other candidate, filling out paperwork and handing over cash to pay his qualifying fee. But he finished it quite differently, doused with ice.
The embattled Republican congressman took the "ice bucket challenge" outside Secretary of State Tom Schedler's office after registering for the Nov. 4 ballot. The challenge is designed to bring donations and attention to the ALS Association, which raises money for Lou Gehrig's disease research.
Also signing up on the last registration day was Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rob Maness, a tea party favorite and retired Air Force colonel. He and GOP U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy are trying to keep Democratic incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu from a fourth term in office.
McAllister's aides dumped an ice chest full of icy water over the congressman, wearing a Saints jersey. He challenged Louisiana's entire congressional delegation and several other members of Congress to take a similar soaking. After his drenching, McAllister hopped into his pickup to head to a public speaking event.
Caught up earlier this year in a cheating scandal, the congressman is threatened in his re-election bid, drawing nine challengers by the close of qualifying.
"I guess they smell blood in the water," he joked. Later, he said: "The more, the merrier."
A security video leaked in April showed McAllister kissing a married former staffer who was not his wife. Republican leaders called on McAllister to resign, but he refused. McAllister still is considered to have a strong chance at winning a new term representing the northeast Louisiana-based 5th District.
"We have a God of second chances," he said.
Candidates running against the incumbent congressman include Republican Zach Dasher, a relative of the "Duck Dynasty" reality TV family. Only one Democrat registered for the race: Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo. In a last-minute surprise, Public Service Commissioner Clyde Holloway, a Republican former congressman, jumped into the competition.
"I thought Vance McAllister would be the congressman for 20 years," Holloway said. "I was not happy with what happened with Vance, so that's my reason I'm running period."
In the Senate race, Landrieu and Cassidy qualified Wednesday.
As he signed up, Maness said he's put 60,000 miles on his truck traveling across Louisiana to pitch himself to voters. The first-time political candidate urged his opponents to debate him in public forums.
While Landrieu has agreed to a series of TV debates, Cassidy hasn't committed to any.
Maness asked the Secretary of State's Office to investigate Landrieu's New Orleans residence claims, saying she clearly lives in Washington full time.
"Anyone who looked at this matter objectively would concede that Sen. Landrieu no longer lives in Louisiana," he said.
But Schedler's office said it doesn't have the ability to determine whether a candidate meets the legal criteria required to run for an office. Spokeswoman Meg Casper said someone would have to file a lawsuit within seven days after qualifying ends to challenge Landrieu's qualifications for office.
Maness paid a qualifying fee rather than relying on the submission of a 5,000-signature petition that he previously said he would use to register for the race.
Six other, lesser-known contenders also are competing for the Senate seat, though none have done any visible fundraising. Democrat Raymond Brown, a minister from New Orleans, said he entered the Senate race because Landrieu hasn't done enough to stem violence in the black community.
Cassidy's bid for the Senate has left his 6th District seat open, and 13 candidates are vying for the position. Most well-known is former Gov. Edwin Edwards, 87, a Democrat and convicted felon. He is expected to make it to the December runoff election, along with one of the nine Republican candidates.
The state's four other incumbent congressmen also qualified for re-election: Republicans Steve Scalise, Charles Boustany and John Fleming and Democrat Cedric Richmond.
McAllister was the only one of Louisiana's U.S. House members to draw well-funded opposition as the three-day qualifying period ended Friday.
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