I'll admit this, it's a pretty awesome ad:


Tea Party candidate Rob Maness wrestles an alligator in his first ads of the Louisiana Senate race, pledging to “stand up to the career politicians — and the alligators.”

The former Air Force colonel, one of three Republicans challenging Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) this cycle, launched radio and television ads on Thursday that feature the wily reptiles that populate the Louisiana swamps.

“Here in Louisiana you learn to be tough,” Maness declares in the television ad, as alligators bare their teeth. “One moment of weakness and the alligators could eat you alive.”

Maness pledges to “stand up to the big spenders,” push for ObamaCare repeal and protect gun rights, each punctuated by an alligator chomp. The ad closes with Maness taping an alligator’s mouth shut as he tells the audience he approved the message “because Louisiana needs a senator that’s going to stand up to the career politicians — and the alligators.” - The Hill, 5/8/14

The GOP establishment is behind Rep. Bill Cassidy (R. LA) but the ad did score Maness a big endorsement:


Underdog Louisiana Senate candidate Rob Maness picked up the endorsement Thursday of Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate.

"In the Louisiana Senate race we have the opportunity to send a true conservative and a real warrior to join that fight, Palin said. "So, today I am lending my support to retired Col. Rob Maness for U.S. Senate."

Palin said that Maness, a retired Air Force colonel and former Entergy official, is the "admitted underdog" in the race, led by incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge.

"Having spent his career in uniform, he does not have deep pockets or lobbyist connections to fund his campaign," Palin said. "To me, it's a blessing, not a curse that he's not held office before. After all, our founders weren't politicians - many of them in fact were military leaders. Maybe it's time we got back to those roots." - Times-Picayune, 5/8/14

Now how helpful Palin's endorsement will be is yet to be seen but it's only fitting she would back Maness and have some harsh words for Cassidy:


Maness, who has also been endorsed by the Senate Conservatives Fund, is running in Louisiana's November jungle primary to unseat three-term incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. The most recent poll, conducted by the New York Times in April, had the Tea Party hopeful at only 4%, trailing far behind Landrieu at 42% and GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy, the favorite of the Republican establishment at 18%. Unless one candidate breaks 50%, which is not expected, the top two finishers in November will face off in a December runoff.

In her endorsement, Palin criticized Cassidy for supporting Landrieu "until recent years" and voting both to raise the debt ceiling, and for "President Obama's hate crimes legislation."  Palin also charged that Cassidy supported the government bailout and what the former Alaska governor called "Obamacare Medicare savings" before flip flopping.

Maness' website says that he is "truly humbled Governor Palin would lend her credibility to a regular guy like me…I've logged 50,000 miles in my Ford F-150 and visited all 64 of Louisiana's great parishes -- this endorsement is just the energy we need to keep trucking!"

Just like Palin, the conservative candidate has had his brushes with controversy.

In March, Maness drew criticism when he told The Hill that had he been in the Senate, he would have opposed Hurricane Katrina relief funding. He later clarified the statement to the Times-Picayune, saying he "would have been as strong as any advocate for aid for the people of Louisiana" after Katrina.

Maness also picked a fight with the incumbent Democratic senator after Landrieu referred to some of her colleagues on Capitol Hill as "obnoxious" last year.  Maness took that to mean she believed all unpopular opinions were similarly obnoxious. Speaking to a conservative audience in November, Maness said Landrieu might take issue with his family's decision to name their dog after Abigail Adams, since she opposed slavery supported women's rights when they were "very unpopular ideas." - The Daily Beast, 5/8/14

We'll see what happens.  In other related news, new polling is out for Landrieu and it's not great:


WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 03: Mary Landrieu (D-LA) listens at a news conference on health insurance reform and its impact on small businesses on November 3, 2009 in Washington, DC. Landrieu was joined by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, and nearly one hundred small business owners from around the country. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
The survey, from Louisiana-based bipartisan pollster Southerm Media & Opinion Research, gives Landrieu just 36 percent support among likely voters to 35 percent support for Rep. Bill Cassidy (R). Retired Air Force colonel Rob Maness (R) takes 7 percent and state Rep. Paul Hollis (R) has 4 percent support. Seventeen percent are undecided.

It’s the lowest numbers she’s posted in any survey of the race yet, and it’s a drop of five points from SMOR’s last survey, conducted last November.

In Louisiana, all candidates appear on the ballot in November, regardless of party, and if no candidate tops 50 percent support the top two vote-getters head to a December runoff, an outcome expected this cycle.

The last independent poll of the race, conducted in mid-April by the New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation, painted a much rosier picture for Landrieu, giving her 42 percent support to Cassidy’s 18 percent support, with more than a quarter of voters undecided.

The SMOR poll also shows her deeply underwater, nearing President Obama-levels of disapproval. Fifty-eight percent disapprove of her job performance, while 64 percent disapprove of the president’s. Only 39 percent of respondents view the incumbent positively. - The Hill, 5/8/14

And Landrieu has a tough road ahead of her:


But an analysis of election results, turnout data and exit polls shows that Ms. Landrieu is not immune to the anti-Democratic trend. She lost ground among Louisiana’s white voters between 2002 and 2008; the decline was obscured by high turnout among blacks in 2008’s strong Democratic showing, with blacks offering her overwhelming support. Ms. Landrieu’s route to victory looks exceptionally narrow this year, if it exists at all.

Louisiana, the state where blacks represent the nation’s second-largest share of the population, saw a surge in turnout among blacks between Ms. Landrieu’s last two elections, rising from 27.1 percent of the vote in the 2002 Senate runoff to 29.5 percent in 2008. Yet Ms. Landrieu’s share of the total vote increased only slightly, moving from 51.7 to 52.1 percent.

The implication — even under the assumption that she performed as well among black voters in 2002 as exit polls show she did in 2008 — is that her support among white voters dropped by at least 2 points, to an estimated 33 percent in 2008. And the decline may have been even greater, since Ms. Landrieu probably did worse among black voters in 2002, a good year for Republicans and without President Obama’s candidacy. If she won fewer black voters in 2002, then she must have won more white voters — and the decline between 2002 and 2008 was therefore greater.

The decline of Ms. Landrieu’s support in such a Democratic year reflects the strength of an inexorable anti-Democratic tide among the state’s white voters. Unlike those in most states, Louisiana’s most Democratic white voters are its oldest ones (over 65), who formed many of their views when Democrats reigned in the South. Older whites offered more support to Ms. Landrieu and Charlie Melancon, the Democratic Senate candidate in 2010, than any other age group of whites. But the most Democratic seniors, who came of age during the Roosevelt years, are a shrinking segment of the electorate. Between 2002 and 2008, that generation fell to 2 percent from 8 percent of eligible voters. And as has happened elsewhere in the South, the Democrats’ views on cultural issues have alienated conservative white voters.

The deterioration of Democratic strength among Louisiana’s white voters is also evident in voter registration figures and presidential election results. Between 2002 and 2008, the Democratic advantage in Louisiana white voter registration slipped to 4 percentage points from 17. On Election Day in 2008, registered white Democrats outnumbered white Republicans by a mere 1 percentage point, down from 16 points in 2002. The shift is just as striking in the presidential election results. In 1996, President Clinton received about 37 percent of Louisiana’s white vote. But that number has steadily declined: Al Gore received 27 percent, John Kerry received 24 percent, and President Obama won less than 14 percent in 2012.

Compared with these figures, Ms. Landrieu’s slight decline still suggests an impressive base of support. But Ms. Landrieu suffered huge losses in some rural counties, performing more than 10 points worse among white voters. Statewide, these losses were largely canceled by an increase in Ms. Landrieu’s support in the New Orleans area, where there are more moderate voters. - New York Times, 5/7/14

So she has her work cut out for her.  Now I don't support Landrieu's position on the Keystone XL Pipeline but I see where she's going with this:


Democratic U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu accused Republicans on Wednesday of being more interested in exploiting the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline project as an election issue than in voting to build it.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Landrieu, who represents the oil-producing state of Louisiana where public support for Keystone runs high, urged Republican leaders to reverse themselves and accept a deal offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Reid, a Nevada Democrat, has said that if Republicans allow passage of a bipartisan energy bill, he would permit a separate vote on Keystone, a project that polls show most Americans support.

Environmentalists oppose Keystone - which would bring more than 800,000 barrels a day from Canada's oil sands to refineries in Texas - saying it could lead to spills and emissions linked to climate change. Backers say it would increase energy independence and create thousands of jobs.

Republicans have joined Landrieu and 10 other Democrats in seeking a vote on Keystone. But Republicans now say they also want votes on a number of amendments to the energy bill, including one to prevent the Obama administration from imposing new regulations on coal-fired power plants.

With Reid refusing to permit amendments on the energy bill, Republicans are expected to stop the bill with a procedural roadblock on Monday. That would likely kill the legislation and see the offer for a Keystone vote withdrawn as well.

It is unclear if the Senate, where Democrats hold a 55-45 majority, could muster the 60 votes needed to pass a bill to take the authority to approve Keystone away from President Barack Obama and give it to Congress. Even if it did, Obama could veto the measure. - Huffington Post, 5/7/14

Now I don't doubt that Landrieu wants to the pipeline built but painting the GOP as not being serious about wanting it built and showing their obstruction is a good defensive play:


Mr. Reid isn't expected to bring up Keystone later unless there are enough votes for it to pass, according to Democratic aides.

Republican operatives were quick to paint the retrenchment on Keystone as a sign of Democrats' lack of influence with President Barack Obama, whose administration has extended a State Department review of the proposed TransCanada Corp. pipeline--first proposed in 2008--because of litigation related to the project in Nebraska.

"Mary Landrieu has been telling anyone who will listen how influential she is after being named Chairman of the Energy Committee, but it turns out that Landrieu isn't influential at all," said Brook Hougesen, spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the campaign arm for Senate Republicans.

Ms. Landrieu's spokesman, Matthew Lehner, dismissed the GOP claims, citing Ms. Landrieu's role in building support among Democrats for Keystone and helping pass bills including the flood-insurance legislation approved by the Senate in March.

"Sen. Landrieu's effective ability to deliver for her state is a matter of record," Mr. Lehner said.

The agreement to consider Keystone faltered amid a dispute over which amendments Mr. Reid would permit Senate Republicans to bring up a for a vote. Republicans, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), had asked to vote on five energy-related GOP amendments, including measures to expedite natural-gas exports and to stop the Obama administration's climate-change regulations.

Mr. Reid objected, saying Republicans were playing a "shell game" by expanding their demands after originally requesting a vote on the energy-efficiency bill and later adding a vote on Keystone.

Frustrated over not being allowed votes on their amendments, most Republicans are likely to oppose advancing the energy-efficiency bill, a senior Senate GOP aide said. - Wall Street Journal, 5/7/14

It's a crap shoot Landrieu's playing here.  There's still plenty of time and Cassidy has proven to have a foot-in-mouth problem over remarks about the poor and health insurance whereas Landrieu has been fighting Gov. Bobby Jindal (R. LA) to expand Medicaid, which is a political winner.  We'll see how this will play out.  if you want to get involved with Landrieu's campaign you can do so here:

Originally posted to pdc on Thu May 08, 2014 at 04:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by Louisiana Kossacks and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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