After the Republican Leadership Conference (RLC) in New Orleans last week, it was not Col. Rob Maness who made major headlines as the man who can unseat vulnerable incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), but rather his Republican opponent Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA). However, Maness’ campaign manager says that despite Cassidy’s popularity among the Louisiana and national GOP, Maness will still “easily” lead as the top Republican challenger to Landrieu on Nov. 4.
“Louisianans are accustomed to retail campaigns – candidates telling them personally what they stand for and asking them for their support,” Maness’ Campaign Manager Mike Byrne told the Hayride. “Rob has done that in every parish and by continuing to do that, he’ll easily be the leading Republican on November 4 and will handily defeat Sen. Landrieu in the run-off.”
Though Byrne said last week was one of the “most exciting weeks” for the Maness campaign, in which the Tea Party Express endorsed the Madisonville conservative alongside former Gov. Sarah Palin, it is no secret that Maness took quite a beating overall at the annual RLC.
At the RLC, Cassidy was welcomed by the Louisiana GOP Chairman Roger Villere and then endorsed by the LAGOP after an executive committee had unanimously decided that Cassidy was the best candidate to oust Landrieu.
“One hundred percent of that 7 percent is coming from your candidate,” Trump said, meaning that Maness’ votes are votes Bill Cassidy should be getting.“My advice is, prior to the election, you gotta get these people together. You can’t have somebody taking eight percent of the vote who’s a conservative,” he said. “I know you think you’re going to take that eight percent and win an election, but that’s not what history shows.”
Trump was not the only conservative at the RLC to ask Maness to leave the Senate race. Shreveport-based conservative activist C.L. Bryant, who will debut a radio show at the end of June, gave what amounted to at least a hypothetical call for Maness to exit the race. Bryant said that if the presence of multiple Republican candidates in the race served to help Landrieu’s re-election chances, then conservatives should go to those candidates and ask them to get out so as to unite behind one candidate in the task of beating Landrieu.
And to make matters worse for the Maness campaign, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), a respected conservative who is looking to take Gov. Bobby Jindal’s spot as state governor, reiterated his support for Cassidy at the RLC as the only viable challenger to Landrieu.
But Maness shows no signs of leaving the highly contested Senate race, with Byrne saying that Maness “is gaining amazing traction and recognition as the only non-politician in the race with a compelling message, exciting paid media, and innovative solutions for the issues Louisianans care about most.”
“All of this has yielded a tremendous uptick in fundraising and enthusiasm on the ground among our volunteers,” Byrne told the Hayride.
In Louisiana, the Senate race between Cassidy, Maness, Landrieu and long-shot Rep. Paul Hollis (R-Mandeville) is a “cajun primary” meaning that Landrieu will have to receive at least 50 percent of the vote to keep her Senate seat. If not, she will head into a December run-off election with the top Republican challenger.
Scott McKay contributed to this report.