Maness’ Campaign Is Now Fueling Suspicion He’s A Stalking Horse For Mary

Seen this yet?

There’s a press release about it, too…

U.S. Senate candidate Rob Maness (R-Madisonville, LA) today launched a comparison campaign to show the contrasts between himself and the other candidates in the 2014 race.

Showing the similar – and often identical – voting histories of incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu, Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy and himself, Maness identifies Landrieu as “Blue Mary,” Cassidy as “Red Mary” and himself as “Quite Contrary,” illustrating that Cassidy’s political record makes him little more than a Republican version of the Democrat who currently holds the seat.

Showing Landrieu and Cassidy’s positions on issues such as Stimulus Spending, the 2nd Amendment, Obamacare and Coastal Restoration, the illustration on draws clear comparisons between himself and the party-picked candidates.

“The mainstream political establishment wants to spoon-feed voters the Parties’ choices, but the people know better,” Maness said.  “Louisianans are tired of lip-service politicians who lack any clear ideology except to win elections.  When voters see the clear similarities between Sen. Landrieu and Congressman Cassidy compared to my constitutionally principled positions, they can decide on their own who best embraces their values and who will represent their interests in the Senate.”

Look, I like all of the folks in the Maness campaign. I count them as friends. And I’ve defended the Maness candidacy from people who call him every name in the book for running against Cassidy.

But this effort is stupid, and it’s going to be really counterproductive.

First of all, calling Cassidy “Red Mary” is wildly off the mark. It makes it sound like he’s transgendered, or that he spent last weekend in the French Quarter or something. It doesn’t effectively get across the idea that he’s the same thing as Mary Landrieu.

And that’s going to be a difficult case to make in any event.

The American Conservative Union gives Bill Cassidy a lifetime score of 86.75, including a 90 last year. Mary Landrieu has a 20.53 lifetime score, and a 16 last year.

The Club For Growth gives Cassidy a 79 score, with an 80 last year. Landrieu has a 16 for both lifetime and last year.

And Freedomworks gives Cassidy a 67 score, with a lousy 50 this year. But Landrieu’s lifetime score is a 17, and this year it’s a ZERO.

With that data to work from, you’re going to say Cassidy and Landrieu are the same thing?

That’s crazy. It makes Maness look crazy.

And any time you’re an insurgent candidate running against the establishment, the first hurdle you have to overcome is convincing the public that running a long-shot campaign for something like the U.S. Senate isn’t the sign of you being out of your mind.

If you’re the Tea Party candidate against an “establishment” Republican and a Democrat incumbent, and particularly if you’re in a jungle primary like this one is, attacking the “establishment” Republican only angers the people you have to win over if you’re going to have a chance to win.

You can’t anger those people. You have to win them over.

There might well be some purchase in the idea that Cassidy isn’t aggressively conservative enough to take the fight to Landrieu, or to represent Louisiana in the Senate the way it ought to be represented. I’ve been pointing that out quite a bit lately as something Cassidy is going to need to fix if he’s going to win this thing.

But while that’s an opportunity for Maness, he’s squandering it if he’s going to show how aggressive he can be in taking the fight to Landrieu…by aggressively taking it to Cassidy.

If this was a Republican primary race, and a closed primary at that, you could get away with basing your campaign on “Cassidy’s a RINO no different from Mary.” If it works and you can win the nomination, you’ve now set yourself up as a clear ideological contrast to her and you can actually even run to the middle a bit in the general election without offending your base of support.

But in a jungle primary against an entrenched incumbent, and while Mary is vulnernable she’s also entrenched given the amount of cash she’s going to have in her war chest, the first order of business is to keep her from getting to 50 percent in the first round. She gets to 50 and it doesn’t matter who comes in second.

And those Cassidy voters Maness needs to win over aren’t going to be interested in seeing him taking a dump on Cassidy. It will make them dyspeptic and morose. Voters you’d like to attract shouldn’t become dyspeptic and morose when exposed to what you have to say.

Instead, what might win them over is to impress them with how aggressive and on point he can be in attacking Landrieu. If Maness were able to do a better job of indicting Mary than Cassidy is, he’d do two things he has to do if he’s going to actually become a factor in this race.

First, he’ll drive Landrieu’s negatives up. You’ve got to do that if you want to insure there’s a runoff to win. She’s not at 50 now, but a year’s worth of Republicans ignoring her while beating up on each other might well make it happen on Election Day.

And second, he’ll energize the anti-Landrieu vote. And the candidate who best does that will not only rise in the polls but also raise money. If people see well-constructed attacks on Landrieu coming out of the Maness camp they might very well decide to pay to keep them coming. That’s a way to even tap into the people who’ve already given Cassidy $3.2 million – there’s no law saying those folks can’t donate to multiple opponents of Landrieu’s.

He’s not doing that. Instead, he’s feeding this narrative…

The next stop on the DSCC’s GOP Tea Party Primary-Palooza campaign is Louisiana, where the battle between the DC Republicans and their Tea Party base is already in full swing. The Tea Party candidate Air Force Col. Rob Maness is challenging Congressman Bill Cassidy, and pledging to “to restore America to the rock-solid foundation of the Constitution and the conservative values that made it so great.” Not only will Maness force Cassidy to spend considerable time and money fighting off attacks and pandering to the far right, Louisiana’s jungle primary will ensure this race stays messy and divisive on the Republican side all the way through Election Day 2014.

While Maness has already met with Ted Cruz, Cassidy faces additional obstacles from national conservative groups who’ve also sat down with Maness. Despite backing from the NRSC, Cassidy’s entrance into the race sparked immediate criticism from the Club for Growth and Senate Conservatives Fund. Both powerhouse conservative organizations wasted no time signaling their lack of support for Cassidy’s candidacy.

Why  conservatives and Tea Party groups won’t rally around Bill Cassidy:

Cassidy attempted to pander to the Tea Party by signing a Senate Conservative’s Fund petition backed by Ted Cruz that called for a flat tax – but is refusing to answer questions regarding whether or not he actually supports it.

Earlier this year, it was discovered that while Cassidy claims to advocate repealing Obamacare, he was caught posing for a photo op at the groundbreaking of a clinic funded under health care reform. His hypocrisy was met with derision on the far right.

Most recently, Cassidy has refused to weigh in on the “defund Obamacare” campaign championed by Senators Mike Lee and Ted Cruz. Cassidy claims he’s being “deliberative” over whether or not he would vote to shut down the government over the funding of Obamacare.

Rob Maness has been unequivocal in his support for a government shutdown, and a flat tax.

“The Republican primary in Louisiana may become one of the nastiest and divisive in the country. There’s no doubt over the next fifteen months, conservatives in state and nationally will look for an alternative to Bill Cassidy, who has posed for Obamacare funding photo-ops while trying to have it both ways with Tea Party conservatives as he hides his record of being out of step with Louisiana families,” said Justin Barasky, National Press Secretary at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “Bill Cassidy’s inability to attract support from rank-and-file conservatives, and Rob Maness’ growing momentum with the Tea Party sets up what’s likely to be one of the longest, most contentious primaries of 2014. Louisiana is yet another state where a brutal intraparty battle on the Republican side will be one more reason the GOP fails to win back the majority.”

The DSCC’s “GOP Tea Party Primary-Palooza” campaign will continue to highlight the more than dozen Tea Party primaries developing in Senate races across the country. Divisive Senate primaries have lost the party numerous races over the last several cycles, and will cause them to lose races again in 2014. These primaries waste valuable resources and force all the Republican candidates to pander to the far right wing by endorsing controversial positions on jobs, health care, taxes, Medicare, Social Security, and issues that have hurt them with women voters like access to contraception, pay equity and the Violence Against Women Act.

Virtually everything in that DSCC press release is a lie, or at least heavily-spun, but Maness’ new offensive makes it look prescient.

And it also makes it look like Maness is a stalking horse for the DSCC and Landrieu. In the same week they’re messaging about how the Tea Party is destroying the Republicans’ chances of winning back the Senate – which is only true if in states where there are actual party primaries the winner of a Tea Party-Establishment primary fight can’t coalesce support from the losing faction, the prospect of which can only be evaluated on a race-by-race basis – here he is trashing Cassidy and basically ignoring Landrieu.

No, we don’t believe Maness is a stalking horse for Landrieu. Certainly not in the way Chet Traylor was one for Charlie Melancon back in 2010. But he’s got to overcome objections like that if he wants to become a major candidate, and the only real way to do that is to go after Landrieu harder than Cassidy does.

Or to tell a great story about his own biography which makes him the most interesting – and maybe even qualified – candidate in the race. And he hasn’t done that either.

We’re all better off if Maness runs a good campaign. This “Red Mary” stuff won’t move the chains in that regard.

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