Tea Party Pins Hopes on Louisiana Challenger After Senate Primary Defeats

The Tea Party’s favored candidate in Mississippi, Chris McDaniel, had a close defeat to six-term incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran in the Republican primary.

So the focus for the right flank has moved west to Louisiana, where retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness is aiming to be the Tea Party pick in the race to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu.

The senator is already receiving a challenge from Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), but Maness’s campaign recently received a boost from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

All candidates in Louisiana appear on one ballot for congressional elections and if no candidate receives 50 percent plus one vote the top two candidates, who can be from the same party, will participate in the runoff on Dec. 6.

Palin recently appeared in a radio commercial touting the candidacy of the retired Air Force colonel. A link to the advertisement appears on Maness’s website. There’s also a seal at the top next to the candidate’s picture that says “Sarah Palin approved.”

“It is an honor that Gov. Palin is renewing her support of our race to take on the status quo in Washington,” Maness said in a statement. “Americans respect Sarah Palin because she speaks her mind and is standing against the go-along-to-get-along crowd in both parties.”

Palin issued her endorsement statement in May.

“Rob is a true conservative – opposing amnesty, pledging to protect our Second Amendment rights, and promising to defund Obamacare,” she said in the statement.

Maness is also receiving support from the Senate Conservatives Fund. The PAC had two losses on June 24 when Tea Party-favored state Sen. McDaniel lost the Republican runoff in Mississippi to six-term incumbent Cochran and T.W. Shannon lost the GOP primary in Oklahoma to Rep. James Lankford.

Mannes’s other endorsements include the Restore America’s Voice PAC, Patriot PAC and the Tea Party Express.

During the last weeks before the Oklahoma primary and Mississippi runoff, the SCF released three ads – two in the Sooner State. The SCF said the cost of the June 12 ad touting Shannon was $130,000 and the June 19 one with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was $163,429. The cost of the McDaniel ad, released on June 17 by Senate Conservatives Action, was $210,000.

The SCF is also giving money to the Senate campaigns of Ben Sasse in Nebraska, Milton Wolf in Kansas and Joni Ernst in Iowa. The PAC is also supporting four House of Representatives campaigns.

The Madison Project is another PAC supporting Maness. Daniel Horowitz, its policy director, said Maness can provide a similar challenge to Cassidy that McDaniel gave incumbent Cochran in Mississippi, pushing him to the runoff stage.

“Republican voters now recognize that McDaniel clearly won the Republican vote, but was stymied by our own party leadership’s insidious and possibly illegal tactics to overpower them with Democrat votes,” said Horowitz. “We are seeing some voters who previously gave the establishment the benefit of the doubt now realize that they fundamentally do not share our values and are not committed to fighting for conservative values like Rob Maness will do if he wins.”

Palin’s endorsement seemed to help as Maness announced in a June 23 press release that he raised over $1 million. He said the average donation was about $50.

Maness raised $760, 175 according to the March 31 figures from the website opensecets.org. Cassidy raised $6,394,560 and Landrieu raised $11,324,447.

“He’s watched career politicians put the American dream in peril and is running to restore the certainty of prosperity for future generations and return power to the people, where the founders intended it to be,” said Mannes’s press secretary Jon Meadows in an email.

While Maness had renewed support from a high-profile figure, Cassidy has also been getting endorsements.

He received endorsements from both the Jefferson and St. Tammany Republican Parish Executive Committees and the host of the show Gun Talk, Tom Gresham.

“This has been a tremendous week for our campaign,” said Cassidy. “We received endorsements from both St. Tammany and Jefferson RPEC’s and one of the foremost leaders in the fight to protect the Second Amendment. On gun rights, Obamacare, immigration, and almost every other issue, Sen. Landrieu is far out of sync with our state’s values.”

Cassidy received his third Republican Parish Executive Committee endorsement during the last week of June in Rapides Parish.

Cassidy, who has served in the House since 2009, also has the endorsement of the Louisiana Republican Party and the Terrebonne Republican Parish Executive Committee.

The latest Real Clear Politics polling average has Landrieu topping all of her challenges in the open primary, but Cassidy edging her out in a runoff. Maness pulls in just 5.5 percent.

(For complete 2014 midterm coverage, get your campaign fix on The Grid.)