Political

Nov 21, 2013 12:21 PM by associated press/ photo from C-span

Rep. Vance McAllister sworn into office

Representative Vance McAllister was sworn into office today in Washington D.C. This is actually McAllister's first trip to Washington D.C., and he's making it as Louisiana's newest congressman. The Republican political newcomer began to build his staff Monday after his surprise, 20-point election win for the 5th District seat. McAllister met with his predecessor, Rodney Alexander, to talk about the office and to get tips on staff. McAllister said he plans to hire many of Alexander's former employees as long as they didn't endorse his competitor, saying he needs to keep people who know the district and who know Congress, particularly since he's taking over the seat in the middle of a two-year term. He quickly hired Alexander's former chief of staff, Adam Terry, to keep the same job with him.

Alexander, a Republican, left the congressional seat in September to take a job in Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration. McAllister handily won a Saturday runoff election against GOP state Sen. Neil Riser to get the vacant seat. "Just to know I'm walking in the same footsteps of our forefathers is going to be a very humbling experience," he said. The congressman-elect has never held elected office, but he said he's not worried about a rough transition. "I'm a people person. I know how to say hello," McAllister said. "I think there's going to be a lot of people willing to put their arm around me and introduce me to folks."

A businessman with the backing of the popular "Duck Dynasty" TV family, McAllister largely self-funded his campaign, running as a political outsider and a pragmatist who talked of the need for compromise rather than partisanship in Washington. He described himself as a true conservative and a Republican, but he added, "Regardless of the party, you should treat everybody as a person."

When he gets his office up and running, McAllister said his first priority will be to handle the backlog of constituent needs and requests that built up while the 5th District didn't have a congressman for nearly two months. McAllister will represent a largely rural district along the Mississippi River delta that is among the poorest districts in the nation. The 5th District covers all or part of 24 parishes, from northeast and central Louisiana into southeastern parishes bordering Mississippi.

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