Rob Maness had been endorsed by the Republican Liberty Caucus all the way back in May of last year, and he’s a charter member of their state chapter in Louisiana. But that didn’t stop his campaign from catching the business end of a sharp rebuke from the state chairman of that organization tonight after his debate performance…
“We know that endorsement and possible revoking of that endorsement for federal candidates is a power of the National RLC. I also know that the State can have input. Tonight in the Senate debate, Colonel Rob Maness told the Lousiana people he would not support legalization of medical marijuana. Dr. Bill Cassidy said he would. In an emergency session called by a member, we voted unanimously in favor of removing the Maness endorsement. I thought I would let you all know.
Thanks, Parker G. Ward Republican Liberty Caucus State Chairman
Legalization of medical marijuana is a fairly big deal as issues go for the RLC, which names Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Justin Amash and Ted Cruz among its members nationally. Maness got the endorsement after saying on his candidate survey that he was for it.
So now that the Louisiana chapter has made the request it’s likely that the national organization will pull the endorsement.
And while that’s an embarrassment to Maness, and it’ll hurt him because with the endorsement will go his ability to align himself with Cruz and Lee and Paul, the RLC isn’t yet a very powerful entity in Louisiana politics.
So this isn’t an earth-shaking loss for him, though it might well sting. Particularly with some of the Ron Paul/Millennial libertarian folks who had been supporting him.
What seems like a real bit of significance behind it, though, is this: Rob Maness doesn’t have a legislative record to examine. His supporters make a big show of how conservative he is, and his rhetoric on the campaign trail seems to comport with that, but what you say on the campaign trail and what you do when you’re trying to govern are two entirely different things. Because it’s really, really hard to cash the checks your mouth writes when you get presented with rock-and-a-hard-place choices in votes on legislation, when you have to make a decision on what kind of considerations you’ll offer to get a deal on items of your priority, and so on.
What’s more, since nobody really knows much about Maness outside of his Senate campaign – he doesn’t have a long track record in Louisiana, he doesn’t have a bunch of people he went to school with to talk about what kind of guy he was when he was young, he hasn’t been a conservative activist in the community of long standing or any of that – he has to basically ask the people of this state to take him at his word that he’ll live up to all his campaign promises. This state is replete with people who think campaign promises are hilarious, because they know damn well no politician keeps his campaign promises.
So when something like this comes along, and you can see that Maness is breaking campaign promises while he’s still on the campaign trail, it does some real damage to his narrative. Here’s a group he threw in with over a year ago, and he’s on TV publicly rebuking them on a major issue they consider important.
Now, you can say Maness is right on the policy question of medical marijuana. That might be true, but it’s not the point. The point is that without his having built a record anyone can see, something like this happens and it’s a real problem for him because you can’t guarantee that all this stuff Maness has been saying is anything more than what he thinks he needs to say if he’s going to be the Tea Party True Conservative in the race. It might just be an act.
That’s not to say Maness is a Landrieu plant or anything. We’re just pointing out that unlike more seasoned candidates with legislative records to fall back on, his credibility depends on consistency in his rhetorical positions and convictions. We’ve just seen a crack in that consistency. It might not be a big crack, though obviously the RLC will think it is, but it’s a problem. And it’s something people need to consider as they decide whether Maness is worth taking a flyer on in November.