Typically when a vanquished legislative candidate, such as Maness who drew votes from a respectable seventh of the electorate in the general election, is of the same party of a candidate who bested him courtesy of Louisiana’s blanket primary system and says he agrees with most every issue preference of that candidate, in this case of fellow Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, an endorsement follows in short order. Initially, Maness indicated that would be the case. But as of three days after his defeat, none has been forthcoming.
If Maness were a noble conservative, there shouldn’t be any hesitation to endorse Cassidy who in office has a very solid conservative record while the incumbent Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu’s is very liberal. For that very reason, many were perplexed when some 18 months ago in announcing his running for the Senate Maness, only recently had moved to the state and having laid zero groundwork in making connections to Republicans and conservatives in the state, proclaimed that the state’s people that he was a “genuine” if not “uncorrupted” by Washington conservative as opposed to Cassidy and therefore conservatives had to vote for him, when the record emphatically contradicted his caricature of Cassidy.
It’s one thing to run as a conservative in a contest with other conservatives and in it maintain you would be the best at articulating and accomplishing that agenda as a reason to vote for you. But it’s another thing entirely to run saying you’re the only “real” conservative in the contest when that is so contrary to the facts on the ground yet you make that the basis of your appeal. It was not a credible claim, and that’s why Cassidy beat him three-to-one in the general election.
And because of that lack of credibility and because what he claimed was so divorced from reality (unless one defined a “conservative” as someone who throughout his life never expressed an issue preference nor ever voted or vetoed in a way contrary to conservative principles, which would define Pres. Ronald Reagan as a flaming liberal), from the start that led to suspicions about Maness’ motives as he chose to run on the basis. The most knee-jerk conspiratorial but least verifiable explanation focuses on his role as the “Maness-churian Candidate,” a Landrieu plant plucked from out-of-state whose job was to poison conservatives against Cassidy to the point enough of them would refuse to turn out to vote for him in the general election runoff to elect her, or, mirabile dictu, somehow Cassidy imploded enough to put Maness into the runoff where the experienced Landrieu would shred him.
But Occam’s Razor suggests a much simpler explanation: Maness simply is so enamored with himself that he believed, with next to no experience outside of the military nor with any connections to the Louisiana political world, and barely any more of any kind to the state itself, that he could drop from the skies into the state and convince the state’s conservative electorate that an experienced and demonstrated conservative officeholder was not a conservative, leaving him as the default conservative worthy of capturing that vote. Whether that’s truly his mindset, conditioned perhaps by the self-delusion that Cassidy was not conservative in both preferences and practice, only he knows, but the whole tenor and tone of his campaign suggests that.
And the endorsement hesitancy only feeds this impression. In an e-mail exchange with a political activist, Maness talks about there being a “process” to go through before issuance, as if there was some kind of negotiation that Cassidy had to endure in order to “earn” bestowment of such an honor. If that’s what he’s thinking, Maness needs to get over himself: failure to grant his explicit endorsement of Cassidy will cost the congressman few votes with plenty to spare to pummel Landrieu at the polls, and he’s in no position to bargain for anything. Certainly a politician that Maness would seem to admire, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, already has shown he has no qualms in supporting Cassidy.
The truth is if a candidate truly believes someone of his party would benefit constituents more than the opponent from another, as a matter of course in order to make sure the people reap that benefit an endorsement comes automatically and without hesitation. His goal would be to maximize the chances of his co-partisan to win because he sees that as much preferable to the opponent’s winning, which is accomplished by a swift and unqualified endorsement.
Yet Maness failed to do that, which suggests either he has such an ego that he wants to extend his ephemeral fame as long as possible or that he continues with the delusion that he is the only savior of the conservative agenda in Louisiana, which he cannot sell out by christening Cassidy with it. Both motives are consistent with how he has conducted himself in the campaign.
Which, if he felt committed enough to the state and its people to pursue future office, is a path he never would pursue. By commanding a couple of hundred thousand votes in a statewide contest against two quality candidates, he has demonstrated that he can be a quality candidate himself in the future for some other state or local office – if he starts building bridges to activists by joining with them in the missions to implement a conservative agenda by putting conservatives in office. Being dilatory in assisting them in the matter of one of the most high-profile offices available from the state does nothing to serve that purpose, and every moment he lets pass without endorsing Cassidy only reduces his chances of ever having any successful future electoral career.
The longer he waits, the likelier it looks that his Senate run had less to do with serving the people of the state and more to do with a run for major office, bringing exposure and adulation, that served as his response to a mid-life crisis brought upon by boredom emanating from his retirement from the military. Advancing the conservative agenda is not accomplished by an exercise in making yourself feel relevant, but by assisting in any way asked, even if it’s not your first choice action. Maness’ response to this point suggests insufficient commitment to that advancement.