La. GOP Candidate Says He'll Stay in Race

In the space of two weeks, Jock Scott (search) went from being called an "excellent" Republican candidate by his party to being pressured to drop out of the congressional race.

Scott said that's not something he will do, despite his party's support of incumbent Rep. Rodney Alexander (search), who made a last-minute switch from Democrat to Republican last week.

"I have been subjected since Friday evening to a constant effort in numerous different ways to get me out of this race," Scott said. "The Republican Party at the national level just won't quit trying to get me out of this race."

A spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee (search) denied it has pressured Scott to drop out, but repeated what they've been saying for days: Republicans are now backing Alexander.

"We are an incumbent retention committee, and the political landscape has shifted," spokesman Carl Forti said.

Alexander will get full financial backing from his new party, with a $10,000 check already in the bank and more on the way.

Scott's campaign will get nothing.

"They've given him every advantage known to mankind," Scott said. "They've gone to elected officials who had endorsed me and gotten them to change their minds."

Scott, a longtime Republican activist and former state legislator, said he's not unhappy with party, but he doesn't appreciate the way they've handled his race.

"Sometimes even good organizations make faux pas. They're using their time, their talent, their money in a way that could be better used in a district where Republicans and Democrats are opposing each other.

"I would assume that they have bigger fish to fry than little 'ol Jock Scott," he said.

Conservative, Protestant and rural, the north-central Louisiana district went for President Bush by 17 points in 2000, and Republicans considered it a likely capture this year before Alexander switched parties.

A letter Alexander wrote in March to the Louisiana Federation of Teachers said he would never join the Republicans: "It would be impossible to join a party that not only ignores the people that make this country great, but also pressures their members to vote against any and all bills that are supported by unions."

Now, he's jockeying for position as the race's true conservative. "You compare my voting record with Jock Scott," Alexander said. "I'm way more conservative than Jock Scott."

Alexander has pledged to return the money given to him by members of his old party -- close to $90,000 -- and said Tuesday that he was "hurt" by the Democrats' response to his 11th-hour defection. Party leaders and officials have called him a "traitor," "confused," and a "coward."

"It hurt like the dickens," the first-term congressman said in a conference call with reporters. "I wasn't a coward. That took a lot of courage to do that."

The Louisiana Democratic Party said it will try to have Alexander disqualified from the Nov. 2 ballot or recalled if he wins re-election. Democrats were particularly incensed because the late switch effectively prevented the party from fielding a strong candidate.

An unknown Democrat, homemaker Zelma Blakes, had qualified for the race earlier.

"I'm somewhat puzzled as to how much hoopla this has created," Alexander said, describing himself as "pro-life, pro-guns, and pro-business."

Scott, who has a long history with the GOP, said he was "deeply involved" in President Bush's 2000 campaign and served as the central Louisiana chairman for Bush's father's campaign and co-chair of Bob Dole's.

"That would qualify for a little bit of respect, I hope, from the Republican Party," he said. "All that I ask is that they allow two Republicans to run their race in the 5th District and let the people decide."

Having two Republicans in the race shouldn't be a problem for the party, Scott said, adding that he's happy Alexander made the switch.

"I'm not going to do anything to embarrass them. I'm going to run a very positive, issues-oriented campaign," he said. "I'm just asking that they just butt out."