This is for the people who this week are trying to present the equivalence challenged in the headline as a way to build support for Rob Maness.
We’ll make this short: those of you trying to make that analogy are all wet, either because your understanding of politics in this state is next to nil or because your relationship with the truth is a hostile one.
To make Cassidy-Maness-Landrieu be actionably analogous to Cochran-McDaniel-Childers, you’d need four elements to be different.
First, you’d need a party primary like they have in Mississippi rather than the jungle primary we have in Louisiana. The dynamics are totally different between the two, not least because Childers, McDaniel and Cochran aren’t going to all be on the ballot together. McDaniel is considering a write-in candidacy, but as we understand it he can’t actually legally win the race as a write-in. If there were a Republican primary between Cassidy and Maness, there might be some foundation to present the contest as Establishment RINO-vs-Tea Party Insurgent For Control Of The GOP’s Soul. But you don’t have that.
Second, Rob Maness would have to be somebody a little different. Like, for example, he would need to be somebody who’s actually from Louisiana like McDaniel is from Mississippi. And he would need to be someone who’s gotten elected in Louisiana; McDaniel is a two-term state senator voted Mississippi Legislator of the Year a couple of years ago. Maness would have to be a Neil Riser or a Mike Walsworth or maybe a Bodi White or Barrow Peacock. He’s not any of those guys, though there are people who will tell you they’d like him to take a stab at that next year in the statewide election cycle.
Third, Cassidy would have to be somebody different. He’d need to be the incumbent, which he’s not, and he’d need to be a puppet of a governing machine, which he’s not. Is Cassidy a Bobby Jindal guy? No – and the proof of that came when he fired Jindal’s campaign guru Timmy Teepell a year ago. Is he a David Vitter guy? There is some interplay between Cassidy’s team and Vitter’s; Cassidy’s campaign manager Joel DiGrado used to work for Vitter. But if you could make that case credibly you’d struggle to say that paints Cassidy as an Establishment RINO; nobody thinks that of Vitter.
As for the idea that Cassidy is an Establishment RINO, it’s valid to point to a few votes he’s made that would make him look less than the ideal conservative. Of the five Louisiana Republican congressmen, Steve Scalise and John Fleming are “elite” conservatives, Cassidy’s more or less in the middle and Charles Boustany and Vance McAllister are lousy. To be Thad Cochran, though, Cassidy would have to be an appropriator. He’d have to be, say, Rodney Alexander and he’d have to have been in the Senate for six terms instead of in the House for six years.
And fourth, Mary Landrieu would have to not be the incumbent who’s won every election she’s run for going on 30 years. I think she’s toast this year, and I think her ride is all but over due to the Obama implosion and so many bad votes she’s taken, plus the collapse of the Louisiana Democrat Party since she was last re-elected, but she’s still the incumbent – and Republicans in this state have thought they finally had her number before. Landrieu is more like Cochran in terms of being the out-of-touch DC political hack trying to survive on how much pork they can bring home, but of course that doesn’t exactly work for this analogy the Maness folks are trying to push.
A more accurate analogy for Landrieu if this race was Mississippi would be that she was Don Cazayoux, who held Cassidy’s 6th District seat for six months in 2008 before Cassidy wiped him out in November. Or maybe Charlie Melancon. Somebody who’d be hapless in a statewide race. Mary might well lose this time, she’s overdue for that, but nobody really thinks she’s hapless. Not with the money she’ll have and the ability to manufacture votes out of thin air like she’s done before.
Of course, other than those elements I’m sure the folks pushing this analogy are spot on. Why let a little reality get in the way of a good comparison?