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Two Republicans in runoff for Louisiana congressional seat

By Kathy Finn

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Two Republicans seeking to fill an open congressional seat from Louisiana will compete in a runoff election after none of the 14 candidates garnered enough votes to win the weekend's open primary.

State Senator Neil Riser and businessman Vance McAllister will meet in a November 16 contest to fill northeastern Louisiana's rural fifth congressional district seat.

Riser had 32 percent of the vote, and McAllister, a newcomer to politics, had 18 percent, far below the 50 percent or more of the vote as required by state law to be declared the winner, according to the secretary of state's website.

The House seat came open last month when Republican Rodney Alexander left the U.S. House of Representatives to become Governor Bobby Jindal's secretary of veterans affairs.

The winner of the runoff will serve out the remaining 13 months of Alexander's term.

Riser has the support of the governor, although political analyst Joshua Stockley said that could be a hindrance.

"With Jindal's disapproval numbers being so high right now, nobody would benefit too much by being associated with the governor," said Stockley, a political science professor at University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Recent polls have pegged Jindal's voter approval in Louisiana as low as 28 percent.

Nevertheless, Stockley said Riser has had a "tremendous edge" in campaign fundraising.

A fundraiser for McAllister was hosted recently by Phil Robertson, star of A&E's reality television show "Duck Dynasty."

Stockley said the election results reflect how voters view political insiders.

"Of the major Republican candidates in this race, Vince McAllister has the least political experience," he said.

McAllister has been able to "channel the anti-establishment Republican frustration sentiment" as well as the popularity of "Duck Dynasty," he said.

Contenders in the primary included five Republicans, four Democrats, two Libertarians, one Green Party candidate and two Independents.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst; and Jackie Frank)

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