Louisiana's "kissing congressman," Rep. Vance McAllister, hasn't quite kissed goodbye to a future in politics.
McAllister, making his first public appearance in central Louisiana since a video went viral
showing him locked in a passionate kiss with a female staffer, insisted he doesn't intend to run for re-election in November.
"I can tell you my intent is not to run for re-election," McAllister said at a central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce luncheon Monday, reports the Alexandria Town Talk
But he quickly added: "To say I'
m 100 percent sure, I would never box myself in like that."
Later, he restated the open-ended plan, saying, "My intention today: I'm not running. But I'm leaving my options open," the Shreveport Times
McAllister shocked the GOP establishment when he won a special election in November 2013 to fill the seat vacated by Rodney Alexander
, who left to work in the administration of Gov. Bobby Jindal.
But he shot into the national spotlight last month when the surveillance video of his makeout session was posted online, earning him the knickname the "kissing congressman."
McAllister opened his remarks to members of the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce by apologizing for his "personal shortfalls," the Town Talk reports.
His wife, Kelly, attended.
"It's been a tumultuous past month," he said. "By the grace of God, I'm going to be fine because I have a loving, forgiving wife."
The primary election for Louisiana's 5th Congressional District is Nov. 4 – and even if McAllister doesn't run for it, he doesn't sound opposed to running for something else down the road.
"I've said all along, it will be the people's choice what I do in the future, as long as it's right for my family," he said, the Town Talk reports.
"I have a whole new respect for public service, both good and bad, and I have to say the good outweighs the bad. It's up to the voters to forgive me in any race in the future."
His wife told the Town Talk she was "behind him 100 percent in whatever decision he makes, and I'll continue to be behind him."
For now, though, McAllister told chamber members he wanted to do some work.
"I don't know what tomorrow is going to bring, but today I'm your congressman, and I'm going to work my butt off," he told chamber members, the Town Talk reports.
"There's a lot of stuff that needs to be done. A lot of people still need representation. I'm going to work twice as hard as long as I'm in the people's seat."
Meanwhile, Louisiana Republican Rep. John Fleming commended McAllister for backing off re-election and said he'd back Sen. Neil Riser, McAllister's former runoff opponent, if Riser runs again, The Hill reports.
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