It isn’t every day that such an admission is publicly pronounced by a political party official. In this article in Politico by Anna Palmer and Manu Raju, the top guy at the Louisiana Democratic Party is quoted as he explains Senator Mary Landrieu’s re-election chances:
“In Louisiana, Democrats believe their best shot at emerging victorious in the race is to win outright in November, taking advantage of a split between Cassidy and his main conservative foe, tea party challenger Rob Maness.
‘The only pathway Republicans have to victory is through a runoff. We have a pathway to victory without a runoff that’s just it,’ said Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk.
The runoff — which would presumably unite Republicans behind one candidate — becomes a much more dangerous proposition for Landrieu and her party.”
Notwithstanding Mr. Handwerk’s party-serving and erroneous, I believe, analysis of the race, he proclaims his party’s official position loudly and proudly, perhaps because many of those who care already know it. As sports analysts put it, Senator Landrieu does not control her own destiny. She must have help from the Rob Maness campaign.
The Maness Effect in the race amped-up to darn near audible levels just after a recent Fox News poll showed a serious fade by Mary Landrieu. As if to punctuate the fact, the poll also featured a strong, 13-point win, 51% to 38%, for Congressman Bill Cassidy when other candidates are not directly named in the poll question. (Rounding out the results are 9% who say they are undecided, and 2% who will not vote if their choice is limited to those two candidates.)
Mr. Handwerk claims a thing not in evidence with his contention that Landrieu can win outright on primary day, November 4th. No publicly available poll results suggest such, and the trendline for Senator Landrieu is now down.
Senator Rob Landrieu?
Rob Maness is, as was the case from the moment of his entry into this race, the campaign’s designated spoiler. I do not believe he understood or expected such. Neither am I aware of any evidence that, as some politicos contend, Maness was recruited for this race by political enemies of Congressman Cassidy.
At the start, Maness, I prefer and choose to believe, felt he could run second to Senator Landrieu in the primary election, then go on to succeed her in the United States Senate. He and his supporters have steadfastly campaigned with the commitment and urgency befitting what they see as a winning cause.
What most political veterans figured from the jump, Maness and his key supporters could not see, much less believe: though he is capable of competing in the marketplace of political ideas, he cannot compete in the marketplace of political fund-raising. It now seems that more money will be spent on this campaign than any other in state history, and very little of that will have been raised and spent by Col. Maness.
Where big campaign dollars go in America’s political enterprise is a measure of candidates’ perceived electability, certainly not a measure of the character of the woman or man who is the candidate. That is the (lousy) rule. The electability of a “Tea Party Republican,” to articulate the applicable point, was dramatically higher in 2010 federal elections, and has precipitously fallen since.
As the Democratic Party now acknowledges for the record, Rob Maness may be the determinative factor in Senator Landrieu’s chance to win a fourth term. Put a bit differently, Maness was and is Mary Landrieu’s last and best chance to serve another term.
If you are a Landrieu supporter, Maness is your hope. If you are not, he well personifies your concern, if not dread.
Thus, the ever louder question. What will Maness voters do if there is a Landrieu-Cassidy run-off? Will they bitterly stay home, doing the heavy-lifting for Senator Landrieu, or rally and help Congressman Cassidy? Maness supporters I ask – each of whom believe him to be a distinctly honorable man and candidate – think he will energetically help Cassidy in a now-expected December 6th run-off.
Hopes, dreads, suppositions and all the rest aside, one thing is clear. If Senator Landrieu is re-elected, she will owe an unpayable debt to Col. Maness.
Elliott Stonecipher’s reports and commentaries are written strictly in the public interest, with no compensation of any kind solicited or accepted. Appropriate credit to Mr. Stonecipher in the sharing – unedited only, please – of his work is appreciated.