Elliot Stonecipher Says Maness Is Mary’s Best Friend, But She’s Not Alone

The Shreveport-based demographer Elliot Stonecipher doesn’t exactly call Rob Maness a Mary Landrieu plant in his latest blog entry. In fact, he takes pains to say the opposite. And yet Stonecipher certainly leads his reader in that direction…

Rob Maness is, as was the case from the moment of his entry into this race, the campaign’s designated spoiler. I do not believe he understood or expected such. Neither am I aware of any evidence that, as some politicos contend, Maness was recruited for this race by political enemies of Congressman Cassidy.

At the start, Maness, I prefer and choose to believe, felt he could run second to Senator Landrieu in the primary election, then go on to succeed her in the United States Senate. He and his supporters have steadfastly campaigned with the commitment and urgency befitting what they see as a winning cause.

What most political veterans figured from the jump, Maness and his key supporters could not see, much less believe: though he is capable of competing in the marketplace of political ideas, he cannot compete in the marketplace of political fund-raising. It now seems that more money will be spent on this campaign than any other in state history, and very little of that will have been raised and spent by Col. Maness.

Where big campaign dollars go in America’s political enterprise is a measure of candidates’ perceived electability, certainly not a measure of the character of the woman or man who is the candidate. That is the (lousy) rule. The electability of a “Tea Party Republican,” to articulate the applicable point, was dramatically higher in 2010 federal elections, and has precipitously fallen since.

As the Democratic Party now acknowledges for the record, Rob Maness may be the determinative factor in Senator Landrieu’s chance to win a fourth term. Put a bit differently, Maness was and is Mary Landrieu’s last and best chance to serve another term.

If you are a Landrieu supporter, Maness is your hope. If you are not, he well personifies your concern, if not dread.

What set Stonecipher to his musings was a POLITICO piece last week about how Republican money is holding back until the runoff cycle in the Louisiana race. More on that in a second, but specifically there was this…

In Louisiana, Democrats believe their best shot at emerging victorious in the race is to win outright in November, taking advantage of a split between Cassidy and his main conservative foe, tea party challenger Rob Maness.

“The only pathway Republicans have to victory is through a runoff. We have a pathway to victory without a runoff that’s just it,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk.

The runoff — which would presumably unite Republicans behind one candidate — becomes a much more dangerous proposition for Landrieu and her party.

Stonecipher doubts, and we agree, that Landrieu can win the nine-way November primary race. She isn’t anywhere near 50 in the primary polls; in fact, there are few which show her as high as 45. So Handwerk’s statements are more or less an exercise in magical thinking.

And Stonecipher also relates that Maness supporters he talks to are saying they’ll vote for Cassidy in the finale. Which we can corroborate – there is polling data, though much of it isn’t public, indicating that Cassidy will pull better than 80 percent of Maness’ voters in a runoff with Landrieu. And that’s why Cassidy’s camp hasn’t really responded to Maness’ attacks on him – they don’t want to alienate those voters they believe will fall to their man.

And further, Rob Maness is good for business. Nobody really wants him out of the race. Also in the POLITICO piece is an interesting bit of news about the plans being made for the five-week runoff chase…

Republicans have made concrete plans with the National Republican Senatorial Committee already reserving $3.4 million in TV time for the Louisiana runoff, while the conservative outside group Freedom Partners has booked an additional $1.5 million for a potential post-Election Day affair, according to sources familiar with the matter. Karl Rove-backed Crossroads GPS has $2.1 million reserved in the state starting Oct. 7.

The NRSC, Freedom Partners (which is a Koch Brothers clearinghouse and could well manifest itself in an Americans For Prosperity media campaign) and Karl Rove are all counting on the runoff in Louisiana. If it doesn’t happen that’s $7 million in cash earmarked for TV ads in Louisiana which won’t get spent.

Which means TV stations all over Louisiana want Rob Maness right where he is. Stonecipher might be right that Landrieu thinks he’s their best friend, but Landrieu needs to get in line. Lots of other people like Maness just fine as well.

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