SADOW: Maness And Landrieu Both Profit From The Cassidy-As-RINO Meme

Republicans, conservatives, and their Senate standard-bearer Rep. Bill Cassidy would rather win that seat sooner than later. Democrats, liberals, and their standard bearer Sen. Mary Landrieu are desperate to keep him from doing so. Mid-major candidate Rob Maness, running as a Republican, and his supporters just want to be relevant. And thus the machinations last week concerning the three major Louisiana Senate candidates.

As much as Cassidy, who has led head-to-head compared to Landrieu in every one of nine polls since the end of the Tour de France, would like to win outright on Nov. 4, increasingly it appears he will not because of the presence of Maness, who claims he is more and genuinely conservative than Cassidy and not a creature of Washington, D.C. There seem to be enough voters buying that to force a runoff between Cassidy and Landrieu on Dec. 6. Except, what if Maness is not what he claims?

That’s the assertion made by his former campaign manager in a note sent to activists but then forwarded by the Louisiana GOP, and denied by his current campaign manager. It nevertheless added fuel to the rumor that he is a “Maness-churian Candidate” in the race to aid Landrieu. The left’s idea is that his conduct during and after his campaign will be one to impugn Cassidy among conservatives in the hopes that they consider him a Landrieu clone and won’t vote at all, in enough numbers to hand Landrieu the win. The note stated that Maness really was not an anti-big-government advocate but figured he needed to appear that way in order to win support.

The plot thickened when a young but already becoming a perennial candidate Parker Ward in Caddo Parish, this time running for school board, denied he had switched support for Maness to Cassidy at the behest of the state Republican Party. At one time running for office as a Libertarian, Ward said Maness’ opposition to medical marijuana use and Cassidy’s support changed his mind, but a social media message to a Maness supporter Ward claimed was doctored indicates he changed his mind to entice GOP support in his present campaign – and his claim seems credible in that the race in question has all GOP candidates including a longtime incumbent, so it seems very unlikely that the party would get involved at all, much less against an incumbent who has been a reliable party supporter.

The Maness forces allege this was an orchestrated attempt to discredit him, but the fact remains that much is not widely known about him that feeds a perception that he is a Landrieu plant. After his entire adult life in government employment in the Air Force, last commanding a wing group in New Mexico, at the end of 2011 he suddenly drops from the skies into Louisiana, where he had been stationed some years earlier, within a year begins organizing a campaign, and within 18 months of retirement, because of (pick one or more) boredom, ego, or genuine feeling that Cassidy somehow was inadequate to quell the fear he had for the country (as he related in the first statewide televised debate), he formally announced and started running.

All voters can do is take Maness on his word, as there’s little independently-verified and public evidence of actions of his from the past that would corroborate what he says he is, which is in contrast to what his former campaign manager said. By contrast, one of Maness’ two major narratives, that Cassidy isn’t “conservative enough,” is directly contradicted by a large body of evidence, Cassidy’s voting record in Congress.

The two most venerable comprehensive scorecards for congressional voting, the American Conservative Union’s and the Americans for Democratic Action’s, which mirror each other, display high inter-coder reliability in their rankings of both Cassidy and Landrieu. The ACU scores Cassidy lifetime above the House GOP average at 85 (higher scores are more conservative, 100 maximum), while Landrieu gets a 20. The ADA doesn’t report lifetime scores, but in 2012 it had Cassidy at 5 (here, lower is more conservative, 0 minimum) and Landrieu at 65.

Lesser known, younger and more specifically-attuned scorecards bear out that Cassidy is conservative, even extremely so, and that Landrieu is liberal, even extremely so. Heritage Action only goes back two years, but rates Cassidy lifetime at 60, just around their House GOP average, and Landrieu at 7. Gong back somewhat farther, FreedomWorks gives Cassidy lifetime 72 and Landrieu 15. Just three years into doing these, FRCAction scores Cassidy lifetime at 90 and Landrieu a goose-egg. And these are groups or prominent members of which who have made favorable mentions, if not outright endorsements, of Maness.

More? Planned Parenthood Action for the past six years overall has Cassidy at 0, Landrieu at 92. National Right to Life scores Cassidy lifetime as 95, while Landrieu gets scored at 27. The AFL-CIO rates lifetime Cassidy at 11, Landrieu at 86. The Club for Growth puts Cassidy at 76, Landrieu at 15. And the left-of-center publication National Journal for 2013 scored Cassidy as 15.8 or 49th most conservative in the House, while Landrieu was scored 58.3 or 44thmost liberal in the Senate.

You get the point. Two painfully obvious conclusions are in order here:Cassidy is a solid conservative, while Landrieu is a solid liberal. Regarding the former, the Maness campaign and its supporters simply are off-base to question that fact, as much as it damages their narrative to admit it. Regarding the latter, by supporters of Landrieu whether directly such as by the New Orleans Times-Picayune editorial board (who laughably call her a “moderate”) or whether indirectly such as by T-P columnist and liberal former Democrat operative Bob Mann (who evades by terming her “one of the Senate’s most conservative Democrats”), they are loath to admit the reality of her record for the negative impression it will create among the electorate.

But they join forces with Maness also by trying to deny Cassidy’s conservative credentials, going hand-in-hand to try to create that impression to turn off conservatives from voting for Cassidy. It’s no skin off their noses to spend time trying to make Cassidy seem like Landrieu, because few if any Landrieu supporters would abandon her over this.

Principled conservatives should not be fooled by any of this self-serving propaganda. And while there may be no verified smoking gun that would confirm that there is in the race a Maness-churian Candidate helping Landrieu to victory, voting for Maness because Cassidy is alleged not to be a conservative for them is both erroneous and self-defeating. And applauded by the left who must pin greater and greater hope on such tactics in order to stave off the looming reality it will come to abhor.

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