…I make that assertion because we actually try to hold to Reagan’s 11th Commandment here, and also because I don’t dislike Maness. I like that he’s a conservative who’s willing to put himself out there for public office – and frankly, we need more committed conservatives willing to throw themselves into the meat grinder that is the political process.
The Left, at least in places where the Left can get candidates elected, has no shortage of union stooges, trial lawyers, race baiters, radical academics and limousine liberals looking to get high on the cocktail of instant celebrity and potential power over their fellow man the process serves up. But our ideological makeup naturally makes our candidates react differently. Most of the best and brightest on the conservative side recoil from the possibility they might end up like Anthony Weiner or Edwin Edwards, and that often leads to some extremely mediocre people in elected office as Republicans.
So that means when a Rob Maness comes along and puts himself out there, I want to like him. And I do. More on that later.
But I also make that assertion because last night I ran into a controversy of sorts with someone who puts herself forth as one of Maness’ biggest fans on social media, and despite the Glenn Close-boiled-bunny-rabbit vibe that came out of it I want to assure the Maness folks that this isn’t an anti-Maness site. We try to offer constructive criticism where we can, but that’s offered in lots of contexts – and it doesn’t mean we’re haters.
What happened was this: a person named Candace Reed, whom I do not know in real life but she was one of those strangers one occasionally meets on Facebook, showed up on my news feed touting a link to a story about how President Obama had designs on detonating three nuclear weapons in the continental United States in an attempt to turn out the lights with an EMP.
There are lots of links to this supposed bombshell (I can’t decide whether that pun was intended) out there. Here’s one with a decidedly unsympathetic slant to the story. And here’s another which gives you a full rundown on what some heroic generals saved us from.
Naturally, this resulted in a long string of people outraged at Obama underneath the link she posted. And while shaking my head at the insanity I saw playing out, I couldn’t help myself but to join in with a cold bucket of water and mention that if the President of the United States was actually trying to nuke the country it would probably get out in the media.
Kinda hard to keep it quiet, you see. That’s something that would likely generate some conversation in media circles. People notice it when somebody’s trying to nuke us with our own weapons.
So I mention that, and Miz Candace says the story is Food For Thought, and by the way I’m the guy who says Maness can’t win.
I responded “yeah, and I’m right on both counts.”
To which she suggested a bet on whether Maness would win. I said it would be cruel of me to accept such easy money.
Then she said Bill Cassidy, the presumptive Republican favorite in the race Maness is in, is a RINO who’s just like the Democrat incumbent Mary Landrieu.
Our readers know that while I would like to see a bit more passionate conservatism out of Cassidy I have zero patience with the moronic assertion that he and Landrieu are the same. And as I pointed out to Miz Candace, every single conservative organization who does congressional scorecards rates him at least 50 points higher than Landrieu.
A 50-point difference on a conservative scorecard does not equate to “just like Mary.” That’s idiocy. And I told Miz Candace that. I also told her that to make such an assertion makes her sound like a kook. What’s more, to make such an assertion in the context of a discussion about whether Barack Obama is guilty of trying to use nuclear weapons on his own voters…doesn’t help.
And I then mentioned that for somebody who touts Maness 24/7 on social media to be engaging in this kind of dialogue doesn’t particularly constitute a level of advocacy most would consider helpful to the Colonel’s cause in next year’s election.
She didn’t like that, so I got unfriended and blocked. My reaction to which is, for the most part, amusement. Particularly by this – which a friend of mine passed along to me after the kerfuffle blew up. Sometimes it’s fun to find out what people say about you behind your back…
“Well xxxxxx, I don’t know if you know who Scott McKay is but he is so in the tank for Cassidy and lashes out with “nasties” just like a liberal. I don’t get that. He is a writer for The Hayride and has been anti Rob since announcement. The true establishment mindset with a progressive’s disposition. Not pretty – erased his comments and blocked him. A rare thing for me.”
I can’t say I regret much of last night’s interactions. I do find this stuff instructive, though, and it’s something Maness has to be on guard about.
The successful insurgent candidates are the ones who are capable of co-opting members of the establishment to their side. Vance McAllister is a perfect example of that. Like Maness, McAllister has never run for political office before and like Maness, McAllister presented himself as an anti-establishment conservative who won’t let the in-crowd tell him what to do in Washington.
But unlike Maness, McAllister went around and got some very established folks to back his candidacy – with phone calls and endorsements if not cash. McAllister got the Davisons in Ruston and the Biedenharns in Monroe. He also got Clyde Holloway and Jamie Mayo on his side in the latter stages of the campaign. And he had the Duck Dynasty gang, which probably meant more than anything else even if they aren’t exactly political players in the state (or at least, they weren’t before McAllister ran).
In doing that, McAllister created the perception among the public that he was a real candidate with a real chance to win. And after he managed to sneak into the runoff, there was no doubt he was a legitimate candidate.
That’s Maness’ challenge right now, and it’s why while I like him I’m not sold on his viability and I can’t take him seriously as a possibility in next year’s Senate race at this point.
Why? Because he’s been running for several months now, and he hasn’t made the kind of headway McAllister made in a far shorter period of time.
Yes, McAllister had his own money to pour into the 5th District House race, and he did – to the tune of over $800,000. Maness has barely raised one-eighth of that. He has a commitment from a third party, the Senate Conservatives’ Fund, to kick in something similar to what McAllister spent. But third-party dollars are not the same as campaign cash; you don’t control how that money is spent, and you can’t use it to build your own organization.
And if the SCF follows through with its promise to spend half of the $800,000 it’s going to put into the race on ads attacking Cassidy, that won’t make many of the voters Maness needs want to vote for him. This isn’t a party primary, after all – a Maness attack on Cassidy is functionally the same as a Landrieu attack on him. Irritate conservative voters who just want to beat Landrieu and they’re as likely to tune you out as to believe in and support you.
Moreover, the Senate Conservatives Fund has no track record, and therefore no stroke, in Louisiana. I say that as someone who generally counts himself as a fan of the Senate Conservatives Fund. But this is their maiden race in the state; nobody really knows who they are around here.
That’s also true of Maness’ other major endorsement to date, the Madison Project. Like the SCF, they’re an organization with a great mission who has no stroke in the state.
Maness needs people who have stroke in Louisiana to get behind him if he’s going to become viable. McAllister did that; Maness has to.
And no, it’s not an excuse to say that since he’s an anti-establishment candidate it’s not realistic to expect him to line up any established players.
Look, Republicans have become ascendant in Louisiana politics. There’s no question about that. But that hardly means this state has a “Republican establishment” which operates in any cohesive manner.
There’s a Bobby Jindal faction which would like to present itself as the state’s political establishment. McAllister’s drumming of that faction’s candidate Neil Riser last weekend clearly shows that to be false. And the Jindal faction is attempting to get momentum behind the idea of running Scott Angelle for governor in 2015 – which isn’t likely to result in anything more successful than Riser’s 5th District race was.
There’s a David Vitter faction which isn’t the “establishment,” either. Vitter has taken on some uphill battles in the state and won some but lost others. Vitter backed Jim Tucker and Billy Nungesser for statewide office back in 2011, for example, and lost in both races. Some think Vitter’s faction is ascendant right now at Jindal’s expense, and that might be true – but you certainly can’t say he’s consolidated anything.
And there’s a Jay Dardenne faction. You can find lots of people who think Dardenne is the favorite to win the governor’s race in 2015, and he does have a good chance at that race. But nobody thinks Dardenne’s faction is dominant in Republican politics right now. Other than maybe Tom Schedler, the secretary of state who beat Tucker in 2011, the roster of political personages aligned with Dardenne is pretty short.
You could make an argument that there’s a Tea Party faction as well, but as someone who would be an ally of it I can’t say there’s any real evidence it exists as anything resembling an organized entity with the ability to galvanize a vote. There are lots of Tea Party groups in the state, but they’ve seldom aligned behind one candidate in a major race and I can’t think of one example of a candidate who actually won with Tea Party backing. Jeff Landry is, I guess, the Tea Party poster boy – but Landry won 65 percent in the GOP primary for the 7th District race back in 2010; he had a lot more support than just the Tea Party in that race.
The point being that the GOP in Louisiana is fractured enough that it ought to be doable to find some Republican luminaries in some of the various factions willing to get behind Maness and lend him some legitimacy. And it’s been months without him being able to do it.
I’m not pointing this out as an indictment of Maness’ fitness to be a Senator or any of that. I’m pointing it out for the sole reason that unless and until he starts getting some endorsements from political people folks in Louisiana have heard of, he’s not going to be able to create the perception he can win. Even a parish president or a couple of sheriffs would help. But so far, all he has is a couple of conservative organizations in DC who – while I like them – have no record of moving the vote in this state.
In Louisiana, he’s got Candace Reed. And that’s not enough. In fact, I’d say it hurts him more than it helps.