Zachary Michael Dasher (born January 12, 1978), is a pharmaceutical representative based in Calhoun west of Monroe, Louisiana, who was an unsuccessful Republican candidate and a favorite of the Tea Party movement for Louisiana's 5th Congressional District in the primary election held on November 4, 2014. Dasher's maternal uncles are Phil and Si Robertson of the Duck Dynasty A&E television series.
Dasher is the son of Gordon Michial Dasher (born August 1952) and the former Janice Ellen Robertson (born May 1951) of West Monroe. Jan Dasher is the younger sister of Phil and Si Robertson. Zach Dasher received a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the Church of Christ-affiliated Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. He and his wife, Jill E. Dasher (born February 1981), reside in rural Calhoun west of West Monroe in western Ouachita Parish. The couple home-schools their four children — Laela, Max, Baer, and Fred.
Dasher is a pharmaceutical representative for a biotechnology company. He previously worked in real estate and in non-profit fundraising. He has volunteered with various ministries through White's Ferry Road Church of Christ, of which he and his wife are members. He is involved in the campus ministry of the University Church of Christ at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
Before his declaration of candidacy for Congress in June 2014, Dasher had never before sought political office.
2014 Congressional race
On June 16, Dasher announced his candidacy for the seat held by the short-term incumbent, his fellow Republican Vance McAllister of Swartz, northeast of Monroe in Ouachita Parish. In Louisiana's nonpartisan blanket primary, or jungle primary, system all candidates compete together on one ballot regardless of party affiliation. If no candidate attracts a majority on November 4, the top two candidates enter a December 6 runoff, officially called the general election. Two other Republicans, Ed Tarpley, the former District Attorney for Grant Parish, and small businessman Andrew Harris Brown (born June 1965) of Monroe, were the first candidates to enter the race. Other Republicans in the running are Ralph Lee Abraham, Jr. (born September 1954), a physician and a former veterinarian from Mangham and former U.S. representative and current Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Clyde C. Holloway of Forest Hill. Only one Democrat, Mayor Jamie Mayo of Monroe, an African American, is in the running, as he was in the 2013 special election for the seat won by McAllister. The ballot further includes Green Party candidate Eliot S. Barron of New Orleans, who lives outside the district, and Libertarian Charles Saucier of Ponchatoula in Tangipahoa Parish.
In his 2014 announcement, Dasher described his reasons for seeking the congressional seat:
- For too long, we've sat idly by while Washington politicians slowly gain control over every aspect of our lives. ... We did not send people to Washington to determine our rights. We sent them there to defend our rights, but that's not what they're doing.
Dasher has stated that if elected, he will work for reduction in spending, for balancing of the federal budget, for free market principles, for a "child's right to life," for Second Amendment gun-ownership rights, for privatization of veteran's insurance, for reduction of EPA regulations, for policy encouraging domestic production of energy, and for repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act AKA Obamacare. In contrast to incumbent McAllister, Dasher opposes expansion of Medicaid, saying that he "would not support anything that keeps people on government programs."
Dasher has expressed concern for what he views as attempts to remove traditional religious practice from the public arena, saying that "our rights do not come from a bunch of elite politicians in Washington, D.C. They come from the Almighty God".
McAllister, a married man who ran on a platform of family values, was caught kissing a volunteer, the wife of one of McAllister's friends, two months after his election to Congress. After the breaking scandal, McAllister said that he would not run for a full term in the position but then announced his candidacy for reelection shortly after Dasher entered the race. The scandal has made McAllister seem vulnerable for a first-term incumbent. In addition to Mayo, McAllister has drawn a large field of Republican challengers, some of whom, like Holloway, supported McAllister in his 2013 special election runoff against State Senator Neil Riser of Columbia in Caldwell Parish, who is not a candidate in 2014.
Dasher led in fundraising for the period officially reported in August, followed by Harris Brown and Ralph Abraham. In September, Mayo received an endorsement from U. S. Senator Mary Landrieu, the Democrat who, in her own hard-fought campaign for reelection, widely declined involvement in other candidates' races.
On September 23, Phil Robertson released a radio commercial endorsing his nephew. Dasher also carries the backing of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican Vice-Presidential Nominee. In her endorsement, Palin stressed Dasher's opposition to abortion and support for the Second Amendment. Organizations backing Dasher include the political action committee of the Family Research Council, headed by former Louisiana State Representative Tony Perkins, the Senate Conservatives Fund, the Tea Party Express, which claims to be the nation's largest tea party political action committee, the Tea Party of Louisiana, Citizens United, and the Club for Growth
Dasher has made several radio appearances to promote his candidacy on The Moon Griffon Show.
In the November 4 primary, Dasher finished a strong third in the congressional race with 53,627 votes (22.4 percent). The contest proceeded to a runoff election in which Mayor Mayo with 267,610 votes (28.2 percent), faced the Republican Dr. Ralph Abraham, who ran second with 55,487 votes (23.2 percent). Incumbent Vance Allister fell into fourth place with 26,605 votes (11.1 percent).
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- "Zachary Dasher, January 1978". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
- "Zach Dasher announces candidacy for Congress in LA-05". KALB-TV Channel 5. Monroe, Louisiana: CBS. 2014-06-16. Retrieved 2014-09-24.
- Hilburn, Greg (2014-09-15). "'Duck Dynasty' cousin leads 5th District fundraising". News-Star. Monroe, Louisiana. Retrieved 2014-09-25.
- McKay, Scott (2014-06-16). "More ducks for Congress: Phil Robertson's nephew announces LA-05 run". The Hay Ride. Retrieved 2014-09-28.
- Dias, Elizabeth (16 June 2014). "Duck Dynasty Nephew to Run for Congress". Time.
- O'Donoghue, Julia (2014-06-16). "Duck Dynasty family cousin joins 5th District congressional race". New Orleans Times-Picayune.
- Deslatte, Melinda (2014-08-31). "After scandal, McAllister lacks incumbent's edge". Shreve Port Times.
- Avery, Cole (2014-09-23). "Mary Landrieu staying out of Edwin Edwards' bid for Congress". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2014-09-24.
- Ballard, Mark (2014-09-24). "Duck Commander releases ad for Dasher". Baton Rouge Advocate. Baton Rouge. p. 3A. Retrieved 2014-09-24.
- Hilburn, Greg. "Texas Sen. Cruz endorses Dasher in 5th District race". Monroe News-Star. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
- "Palin endorses Dasher in 5th district race". Alexandria Town Talk. September 10, 2014. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
- Hilburn, Greg. "Two more conservative groups endorse Dasher". The Monroe News-Star. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
- "Election results 11/4/2014". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
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