Friday, 11 July 2014 11:09
Carville wrong: Maness no McDaniels; Landrieu, Cassidy no Cochran race
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manessAnd so it’s come to this: if one of their leading avatars is indicative, Louisiana Democrats have become so pessimistic regarding Sen. Mary Landrieu’s chances for reelection that they place their faith in Republican candidate Rob Maness.


That comes from an opinion piece written by veteran operative James Carville, who has the honesty to admit in it that he provides aid and comfort to the Landrieu campaign. Not admitted, if he even realizes it, is that he is whistling in the wind like other observers who do not understand the serious trouble in which the campaign finds itself. Bluntly, the data and dynamics present at this time point to Landrieu’s losing.

Which perhaps explains why he mentions, in expounding upon four reasons why the contest should interest the attentive public, this:

Republicans could be faced with a Chris McDaniel type of situation. Although the news has yet to penetrate the Beltway, where it is believed that United States Congressman Bill Cassidy (R) will surely face Landrieu in the Louisiana runoff, a former Air Force colonel, Rob Maness, has started to stir the pot. Maness, who has the coveted endorsement of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), is using his “Contract with Louisiana” as the foundation for his platform. And although Maness is currently running in third, I know of no reason that Louisiana Republicans are any less prone to hard-right messaging than Mississippi Republicans were with McDaniel in his contentious race against the incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran.

And thereby also demonstrates either there are reasons he does not know, connected to Louisiana Republicans, Cassidy, and Maness, that invalidates the notion he floats here that this campaign could become as chaotic as that Mississippi version, or does not wish to acknowledge. They begin with that the entrenched insider often accused with being out of touch with the state in this contest is not Cassidy, but Landrieu. Carville tries to make the implication that “hard-right messaging” works when an incumbent appears to have sold out conservative principles in favor of cronyism and big government, to follow the Mississippi analogy, but Cassidy isn’t a 41-year incumbent and he has a reputation as a solid conservative, with a lifetime score of around 85 from the American Conservative Union (100 making for the “perfect” conservative record) and 92 in 2013, in contrast with Cochran’s 79 lifetime but only 60 last year.

So there’s less room to paint Cassidy as some detached sell-out, but perhaps a greater factor than Cochran’s presumed sins that led to his barely surviving a primary challenge is that McDaniel had credibility far beyond Maness.’ McDaniel has served six years in the Mississippi Senate and effectively, plus prior to that built a following as a radio talk show host and joined in GOP party-building efforts. By contrast, Maness arrived in Louisiana three years ago, having worked in government (armed forces) all his life, drawing a pension and private sector salary, and decided with that nice income not long after it would be neat to run for the Senate without so much as trying to convert activists and others who could be sold on him as an effective officeholder that could turn their ideology into policy, to demonstrate credibly that he was superior to all other alternatives, and to show convincingly that he could defeat Landrieu. Maness does not equal McDaniel, not even close.

McDaniel pushed to the brink a long-time incumbent because he could make a convincing case that Cochran had been captured by Washington and that he showed he could be a comparatively and significantly more conservative alternative with a track record of effectiveness. Maness can show neither against Cassidy. And, something Carville neglects to mention, there’s no Republican primary, so “hard-right messaging” makes less of a difference even if the gulf between Cassidy and Maness was the same as that between Cochran and McDaniel.

No doubt Carville fantasizes that internecine GOP warfare will blossom and somehow can push Landrieu across the finish line in first, but, if so, this badly contradicts his reputation as a shrewd judge of campaigns. The only interesting aspect that Maness will bring to the race is whether he denies Cassidy a win in November and makes him have to wait until December to put away Landrieu.

Jeffrey Sadow

Jeffrey Sadow is an associate professor of political science at Louisiana State University in Shreveport.   He writes a daily conservative blog called Between The Lines

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