10 Reasons Why Common Core Should Spook You This Halloween

Lindsey Burke /

Ghosts and goblins aren’t the only things causing unease this Halloween. With their children settled into the 2014-15 school year, parents have growing concerns about the impact of Common Core. Here are 10 reasons why Common Core national standards and tests take American education in the wrong direction:

  1. Loss of state and local control. Adopting Common Core national standards and tests surrenders control of the content taught in local schools to distant national organizations and bureaucrats in Washington. It is the antithesis of reform that would put control of education in the hands of those closest to students: local school leaders and parents.
  1. Impact on private schools and homeschoolers. One of the goals of College Board President David Coleman is to more closely align the SAT with current high school curricula, which now means curricula informed by Common Core. Coleman was one of the architects of Common Core and took over the presidency of the College Board in May 2012. “The Common Core provides substantial opportunity to make the SAT even more reflective of what higher education wants,” Coleman said. With the SAT (and ACT and GED) aligned to Common Core, that could have a major impact on students in private schools and homeschooled students, who often take the college entrance exams. 
  1. Implementation/testing. Even the National Education Association’s immediate past president, Dennis Van Roekel, has been critical of Common Core implementation. Earlier this year Van Roekel wrote I am sure it won’t come as a surprise to hear that in far too many states, implementation has been completely botched. Seven of [10] teachers believe that implementation of the standards is going poorly in their schools. Worse yet, teachers report that there has been little to no attempt to allow educators to share what’s needed to get [Common Core State Standards] implementation right.  In fact, two-thirds of all teachers report that they have not even been asked how to implement these new standards in their classrooms.” 
  1. Loss of parent voice. Upon being told by the principal at her child’s school that their mathematics program had to use certain textbooks because of Common Core and that there was nothing he could do about it, Heather Crossin, an Indiana mother and opponent of Common Core says,“That was the moment when I realized control of what was being taught in my child’s classroom  —  in a parochial Catholic school  —  had not only left the building, it had left the state.”
  1. The content! Dr. Sandra Stotsky has warned that college readiness will decrease as a result of Common Core English Language Arts standards, which include a marked shift from fiction in favor of informational texts. “By reducing literary study,” Stotsky notes, “Common Core decreases students’ opportunity to develop the analytical thinking once developed in just an elite group by the vocabulary, structure, style, ambiguity, point of view, figurative language and irony in classic literary texts.” Content-matter experts have concluded the mathematics standards do not prepare students for careers in STEM fields,and that by seventh grade, Common Core will leave American students two grade levels behind their international peers. Parents are seeing the convoluted math homework their children are bringing home and are frustrated. As one engineer father said of the mathematics homework his son brought home, “in the real world, simplification is valued over complication.”
  1. Federal fingerprints. Without congressional approval, the Obama administration has used a combination of carrots and sticks to spur states to sign on to the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Waivers from No Child Left Behind conditioned on common standards adoption, $4.35 billion in Race to the Top grants, the direct federal financing of the national assessments and a “technical review panel” housed at the Department of Education all leave little doubt the federal government has been a driving force behind the effort for national standards and tests.
  1. The lack of evidence. We hear a lot about “internationally benchmarked” and rigorous standards, but the evidence is lacking. There is no indication that the Common Core was, in fact, internationally benchmarked. Even if it had been, national standards are unlikely to increase student performance relative to other nations. Many of the countries that perform worse than the United States on international assessments have national standards. 
  1. Watering down college? What impact will Common Core have on the rigor of college courses? As former U.S. Department of Education official, Ze’ev Wurman, argues: “Everything will align – including private schools, including charter schools, because they want to get their kids to college. It used to be that the ACT could do what the colleges demanded of it. Suddenly the ACT is going to do—it’s actually done already—what the K-12 system demands of it. Same with SAT.”
  1. Informing bureaucrats, not parents. Information about how their children are mastering course content, gleaned from school assessments and by talking to teachers, will be far more valuable to parents than the type of information provided through national standards—information that is more useful to bureaucrats who distribute funding. 
  1. One-size-fits-all approach instead of innovation! Common Core is the antithesis of the type of innovation that defines educational innovation: It is bureaucratic, top-heavy and inflexible. Far more promising efforts—such as school choice—are on the march across the country. We should strive to make it “common” for children to have choice in education.

Thankfully, Common Core isn’t like Hotel California—once you check in, you can check out, as states such as Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina have shown. And once out of Common Core, states can refocus their attention on efforts that hold promise for improving educational outcomes. Chief among them: student-centered school choice options that increase opportunity for all.

States Have Legal Authority to Quarantine Citizens Exposed to Ebola - Daily Signal

States Have Legal Authority to Quarantine Citizens Exposed to Ebola

Lindsey Burke / Cully Stimson /

Lost in the debate about whether New Jersey or Maine should enact quarantine against a nurse who just returned from treating Ebola patients in West Africa is the law as it pertains to quarantines at the state level.

Setting aside the politics of a state government enacting quarantine, or the heavy-handed lectures from the White House pushing states not to enact state-based quarantines, the actual legal authority of a state to enact quarantine under certain conditions is clear.

As we write in an upcoming Heritage paper, the Supreme Court of the United States has long recognized the power of states to enact and enforce laws that provide for quarantine of persons infected or exposed to a disease to protect the people of the states from the spread of the disease. The only exception is if  Congress has enacted a law displacing such state law, using the exercise of the congressional power to regulate interstate, foreign or tribal commerce.

In 1902, the Supreme Court wrote in Vapeur v State Board of Health, “That from an early day the power of the states to enact and enforce quarantine laws for the safety and the protection of the health of their inhabitants has been recognized by Congress, is beyond question.  That until Congress has exercised its power on the subject, such state quarantine laws and state laws for the purpose of preventing, eradicating, or controlling the spread of contagious or infectious diseases, are not repugnant to the Constitution of the United States, although their operation affects interstate or foreign commerce, is not an open question.”

The power to enact quarantine laws derives from a state’s police power.  In 1947, in the case of Ex Parte Fowler, the Oklahoma Court of Appeals stated that “the adoption of laws for the protection of public health is universally considered to be a valid exercise of the police power of the State as to which the Legislature is necessarily vest with large discretion, not only in determining what are contagious and infectious diseases, but also in adopting means for preventing the spread thereof.”

As Northwestern University Law Professor Eugene Kontorovich wrote recently, “A quarantine is by definition a prophylactic measure that applies to those who are not necessarily sick or infected.” Courts have upheld state quarantines for all ships coming to New Orleans via the Mississippi, for a person who came to the United States from a smallpox infected area and in other instances when a person or class of persons either has a dangerous communicable disease or has been exposed to such.

Under the Public Health Service Act, Congress gave the Secretary of Health and Human Services authority to fight disease, including imposing isolation or quarantine to control epidemics of any disease.  That law gives the Surgeon General the power to issue regulations necessary to prevent “the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into the States or possessions, or from one State or possession into any other State or possession.”  Section 311(a) of the Act directs the Secretary to “cooperate with and aid State and local authorities in the enforcement of their quarantine and other health regulations.”

The Centers for Disease Control interim guidance issued on Oct. 27(later updated on Oct. 29) states, in relevant part, that the “CDC recognizes that state and local jurisdictions may make decisions about isolation, other public health orders and active (or direct active) monitoring that imposes a greater level of restriction than what is recommended by federal guidance, and that decisions and criteria to use such public health measures may differ by jurisdiction.”  In other words, a state may impose greater restrictions on people exposed to Ebola than the federal guidelines.

There is a vibrant debate among legal scholars, including on the legal blog The Volokh Conspiracy, about the scope of the state quarantines and potential due process challenges to state Ebola quarantines.

But the states’ legal authority to enact an Ebola quarantine is beyond question.  Those subject to the state quarantine may sue in state court for relief.  But a state judge, in balancing the liberty interest of the quarantined person against the very real dangers of Ebola and the government’s interest, will be hard pressed to rule against the government, absent compelling facts.

How Ebola Outbreak Could Affect the Price of Chocolate - Daily Signal

How Ebola Outbreak Could Affect the Price of Chocolate

Lindsey Burke / Cully Stimson / Thomas Lee /

You soon could be paying more when you buy a candy bar.

Recently, there was a temporary spike in the price of cocoa, the key ingredient in chocolate, likely due to fears connected to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

According to the International Cocoa Organization, an intergovernmental commodity organization, the majority of the world’s cocoa, about 70 percent, is harvested in West Africa. Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s top cocoa supplier at almost 40 percent.

Côte d’Ivoire has placed travel restrictions on individuals from Ebola-affected Guinea and Liberia, in an attempt to stop Ebola from spreading. In addition, Liberia has closed its land borders (except for major entry points that have preventive and testing centers), making it difficult for workers to move to other countries. This has caused a major dent in the migrant workforce needed to pick the cacao beans for the harvest season.

ICCO states that current international cocoa prices have taken Ebola into account and, absent a major negative development, the group does not expect significant disruption to the market in the medium term.

However, whether Ebola spreads to the biggest cocoa producing countries could play a role in prices.  For example, according to Matthew Bradbard, vice president of managed futures and alternatives at Chicago-based RCM Asset Management, if there is a confirmed case of Ebola in either Côte d’Ivoire or Ghana, prices could rise by 10 percent.

Chocolate companies are likely to pass on any additional costs to consumers, although they may find alternative ways to reduce production costs. One of these ways is to reduce packaging and portion sizes. Another way is to alter the candy bars with less expensive ingredients such as sugar and raisins to balance out the higher cost of cocoa.

Ebola will probably not impact Halloween candy prices.  However, as Jack Scoville, a vice president of the Price Futures Group, explains “If [Ebola] does become an issue—which is becoming an increasingly big ‘if’—it would be more of an issue around Valentine’s Day or Easter.”

Ebola Preparedness: Yearning for Yesteryear - Daily Signal

Ebola Preparedness: Yearning for Yesteryear

Lindsey Burke / Cully Stimson / Thomas Lee / Daniel Kaniewski /

Earlier this week The Heritage Foundation hosted the session “Ebola: U.S. Domestic and Foreign Policy Options,” presented by three former colleagues of mine: Dr. Bob Kadlec, Dr. Tevi Troy, and Dr. Tara O’Toole. Together with Heritage researcher Charlotte Florance, they participated in a thoughtful discussion that skipped the hyperbole and instead provided much needed perspective and policy recommendations for the Ebola outbreak.

The Public Health Experts

Having worked with Bob and Tevi in the Bush White House and Tara in the Obama Department of Homeland Security (DHS), I know well their expertise in the area of public health preparedness. And I agree with Dr. Steve Bucci, Heritage’s host for the session, that they would have been superior candidates for the Ebola Czar position.

As they spoke of the need for expedited medical countermeasures, enhanced diagnostics, and more effective public communications, I had to remind myself that I was not sitting in an interagency meeting at the White House, but rather in a think tank session. That these experts are no longer in government—actively working to safeguard us from the public health threats we face—is as depressing as it is concerning.

Tevi Troy planned for pandemic influenza at the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services. Tara O’Toole was a national recognized leader on biodefense even before stepping foot in DHS.

No Biodefense Directorate

Perhaps most striking, not only is Bob Kadlec no longer managing public health emergencies at the White House, but the position he held and the organization he oversaw no longer exists. President Barack Obama merged the Homeland Security Council (HSC) staff into the National Security Council staff shortly after taking office. The HSC Biodefense Directorate was among the capabilities not retained in the merger. Thus, today there is no Bob Kadlec equivalent—a physician and public health expert—quarterbacking the White House’s response to the current crisis and preparing for the next.

The Heritage Session

I encourage you to watch the session. Just be forewarned, you too may feel morose that these experts are on the sidelines, rather than czars.

Daniel Kaniewski, PhD, is a Senior Fellow at the Homeland Security Policy Institute and a former Special Assistant to the President for Homeland Security in the George W. Bush Administration.

Her Son Was Killed by an Illegal Immigrant. Now, She’s Making Her Anti-Amnesty Case to Obama. - Daily Signal

Her Son Was Killed by an Illegal Immigrant. Now, She’s Making Her Anti-Amnesty Case to Obama.

Lindsey Burke / Cully Stimson / Thomas Lee / Daniel Kaniewski / Melissa Quinn /

Tragedy struck Mary Ann Mendoza’s family in May when an illegal immigrant, who was driving drunk, killed her son.

Brandon Mendoza, a Mesa, Ariz., police officer, died in the crash along with Raul Silva-Corona of Mexico. Silva-Corona had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit when he was driving the wrong way on a highway and struck Mendoza’s car.

Appearing on Fox News with host Neil Cavuto, Mendoza spoke about two letters she penned to President Obama, and said she would like acknowledgement from the president of the pain and suffering Americans who are in similar situations are going through at “the hands of repeat, illegal criminals.”

Silva-Corona, who was living in the United States illegally, was convicted of crimes in Colorado two decades earlier but not deported.

Mendoza said she feels Obama is ignoring the “thousands” of Americans who lost loved ones because of crimes committed by illegal immigrants and criticized the president for helping those here illegally by offering amnesty, but not addressing the concerns of U.S. citizens.

>>> Related: Twice-Deported Convict Accused in Slayings of 2 Lawmen

Lawsuit Against AT&T Over Slowing Customers’ Internet Shows We Have Enough Internet Regulations - Daily Signal

Lawsuit Against AT&T Over Slowing Customers’ Internet Shows We Have Enough Internet Regulations

Lindsey Burke / Cully Stimson / Thomas Lee / Daniel Kaniewski / Melissa Quinn / Michael Sargent /

On Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission sued AT&T—the nation’s second largest wireless broadband provider—for allegedly slowing certain wireless customers’ Internet speeds even though those customers were on “unlimited” plans.

AT&T claims it did nothing wrong and had notified customers of the change. The FTC handles these sorts of disputes all the time. Importantly though, the FTC’s aggressive pursuit of the case shows how existing laws are well-equipped to protect consumers without the need for so-called “net neutrality” rules.

Specifically, the FTC contends AT&T misled its customers when it slowed service for heavy users of the provider’s “unlimited” data plan, making the unlimited plan in fact quite limited. The practice, known as “throttling,” has been a frequent flashpoint in the debate over the Federal Communications Commission’s attempted regulation of the Internet with rules that essentially would treat Internet providers as public utilities.

This type of regulation—known as “Title II”—would chill investment and innovation, as well as break the formerly bipartisan acknowledgement that a “light-touch” approach is best to maintain the dynamism of today’s open Internet.

FCC interest in alleged throttling cases dates back to 2007 when the FCC accused Comcast Corporation of throttling users of BitTorrent, a file sharing program. These BitTorrent users, Comcast said, clogged the network by consuming exponentially more data than the average user. Regulation advocates howled for FCC intervention, ostensibly to protect consumers from Comcast and other companies that allegedly have misled their customers.

This week’s case, filed by the FTC in the Northern District of California, addresses the same basic issue without new rules and without bringing yet another agency, the FCC, into the mix.

Indeed, upon filing the suit, FTC commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen declared that the “[FTC] can and will enforce broadband [Internet Service Providers’] promises about traffic [management],”—a power regulation advocates say the FCC needs.  And as another FTC commissioner tweeted, the FTC’s established cost-benefit standard and economic analysis constitute a “superior approach on #NetNeutrality issues,” compared to the ever-lagging FCC’s approach to overhauling the Internet.

The FTC’s factual claims against AT&T will have to be evaluated on their merits, but the lawsuit is evidence established protections already exist for consumers on the Internet. Policymakers should continue to protect consumers with the tools already at their disposal rather than impose new and potentially harmful constraints on the open Internet.

The Dark Side of Russian State Media - Daily Signal

The Dark Side of Russian State Media

Lindsey Burke / Cully Stimson / Thomas Lee / Daniel Kaniewski / Melissa Quinn / Michael Sargent / Dorin Methfessel /

On October 29, Serbian news sources reported that the Kremlin planned to open 29 bureaus of Rossiya Segodnya, a Russian state media outlet, in capital cities worldwide. The plan to open the bureaus will augment the Kremlin’s global presence. The increase in media outlets allows Russia to continue to export propaganda intended to influence foreign audiences and support Russian aggression.

Russian policy severely restricts independent media outlets. The Duma passed a law that nearly eliminates foreign-owned news sources. Disseminating propaganda, both domestically and abroad, is such a priority for the Kremlin that Vladimir Putin would not accept a budget cut for RT, another state-supported media outlet. Instead, the Kremlin increased RT’s budget by 30 percent for the 2015 fiscal year.

As Russia continues to exert itself aggressively in places like Georgia and Ukraine, the Kremlin produces propaganda masked as legitimate news to shift public opinion. Heritage Foundation analyst Daniel Kochis wrote:

Insulated from criticism in the Russian press, Putin has faced condemnation abroad, especially over the invasions of Georgia and Ukraine. Therefore, Putin has sought to export favorable coverage, obscure objective truths, and sap the resolve of Western publics to counter Russian aggression.

Russian disinformation is aimed in part at nations with a large number of ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking persons, such as American allies in the Baltic States. The propaganda campaign could be used to create fissures in local populations. In order to prevent Russian propaganda from damaging American interests in Europe, the U.S. needs to take specific countermeasures. Policies that counter misinformation with factual evidence should be pursued. For example, the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence (CCE) in Latvia can help allies ensure an appropriate and nimble response to Russian disinformation. Additionally, continuing to strengthen the transatlantic alliances is crucial for countering Russian propaganda.

Russia is doubling down on its campaign to influence foreign media coverage with disinformation—the U.S. must be aware the stakes have been raised.

Dorin Methfessel is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.

Is an Ohio School District Using Public Money to Campaign? - Daily Signal

Is an Ohio School District Using Public Money to Campaign?

Lindsey Burke / Cully Stimson / Thomas Lee / Daniel Kaniewski / Melissa Quinn / Michael Sargent / Dorin Methfessel / Maggie Thurber /

Brad Reynolds received a text message, Oct. 24, from Maumee City Schools:

“Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser tonight at Maumee High School. 5 – 6:30. $6 adults. $4 seniors/students. Students performing throughout”

The text came from the School Messenger alert system — the one that’s supposed to be used to notify parents of an emergency or about weather delays.

But Reynolds has a problem.

Ohio schools are prohibited from using public resources to promote a campaign issue.

Reynolds said he and his wife signed up for alerts from the school, primarily so they would know about weather-related school delays. He said they’ve also received information about various school events, such as fundraisers, for the band and functions related to in-school organizations.

“This was the first time for a campaign event,” he said.

Ohio Revised Code 3315.07 says “no board of education shall use public funds to support or oppose the passage of a school levy or bond issue or to compensate any school district employee for time spent on any activity intended to influence the outcome of a school levy or bond issue election.”

Reynolds said he followed media reports of illegal campaigning with public resources, including when Sylvania City Schools sent emails to parents asking them to volunteer for their levy efforts, so he knew the district might be wrong.

Because of those reports, he decided to check out the Maumee Schools Facebook page and found it advertised the campaign event there as well.

As of Monday morning, the post was still on the district’s official page.

Reynolds said he sent an email to all board members about the possible violation, and he hoped they would respond before the end of business Monday.

But he’s not optimistic.

“I’m expecting platitudes,” he said. “The school board has its own agenda. I approached them a while ago about doing a performance audit before they ask for more money. I was told ‘we do our own books and don’t think we need a performance audit.’”


Read more at Watchdog.org

This City Is Spending Big Bucks on Artsy Stop Signs - Daily Signal

This City Is Spending Big Bucks on Artsy Stop Signs

Lindsey Burke / Cully Stimson / Thomas Lee / Daniel Kaniewski / Melissa Quinn / Michael Sargent / Dorin Methfessel / Maggie Thurber / Tom Steward /

Some $1.3 million has been diverted from taxpayer funded city infrastructure projects for esoteric stop signs and other public art works. (Photo: Watchdog MN Bureau Photo)

Some $1.3 million has been diverted from taxpayer funded city infrastructure projects for esoteric stop signs and other public art works. (Photo: Watchdog MN Bureau Photo)

ST. PAUL, Minn. — St. Paul may be predictably progressive, but the powers at City Hall enthusiastically embrace the “1 percent.” The 1 percent, that is, of costs automatically taken off the top of local government construction projects, under a city ordinance mandating taxpayer-funded public art.

Form counts as much as function in city infrastructure projects. “The city council believes planning and development decisions should give aesthetic and social value equal weight with any project’s functional and economic values,” according to the Public Art Ordinance Program guidelines.

Embedded in public works department offices and equipped with taxpayer-provided phones and computers, two artists-in-residence, paid by the nonprofit Public Art Saint Paul, collaborate with city engineers and architects on capital construction projects — from stairways to stadiums.

The most visible publicly funded art on display stops drivers and pedestrians in their tracks — by design. Dozens of newly installed floral-themed stop signs, commissioned by resident city artist Marcus Young, elicit double- and triple-takes.

“Marcus concluded that, if a stop sign post is a matter of life and death, it is even more important that the stop sign post be beautiful,” according to Art Place America. “… It should speak to something beyond simply maintaining our life; that the stop sign post presented an opportunity to create something that keeps our bodies safe while nourishing our souls.”

The $110,000 public arts project features traditional stop signs atop curved rusty iron posts shaped like stalks that sprout metal petals, leaves and floral motifs designed by artist Lisa Elias. The floral signs averaged about $1,000 apiece, including administrative, production and installation costs. Typical stop signs cost about $250 to replace every 10 to 15 years and don’t generally need new posts, according to MnDOT.

A master list of projects undertaken since passage of the 2009 ordinance indicates $1.3 million in taxpayer funding has been budgeted for public art works incorporated into infrastructure projects such as bridges, boulevards, buildings and public places. A 79-page technical manual lays out the policies and procedures for artists to follow.

Case studies posted online show budgets up to $50,500 for artwork on a bridge, $90,000 for a digital media set-up at a community and recreation center and $170,000 for creative enhancements at the new St. Paul Saints’ stadium.

Read more at Watchdog.org

 

 

A Voter’s Guide to Untangling the ‘Jungle’ Election That Could Keep America Waiting - Daily Signal

A Voter’s Guide to Untangling the ‘Jungle’ Election That Could Keep America Waiting

Lindsey Burke / Cully Stimson / Thomas Lee / Daniel Kaniewski / Melissa Quinn / Michael Sargent / Dorin Methfessel / Maggie Thurber / Tom Steward / Kelsey Harkness /

America’s political operatives are spread across the land fighting for their candidates, from the frosty U.S. Senate race in Alaska to the red-hot governor’s race in Florida.

But if control of the Senate hangs in the balance after Tuesday’s midterm elections—and multiple scenarios suggest it could—then most of those operatives will be bound for Louisiana after the polls close.

The Bayou State doesn’t have party primaries. All candidates from all parties run in a “jungle primary,” which is what’s on tap Tues. If none of the nine candidates for Senate garners more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two must compete in a runoff election Dec. 6.

So Louisiana’s Senate race is unlikely to be decided Tuesday.

According to the most recent polling, incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu, whose father served as mayor of New Orleans and whose brother is mayor now, sits at about 38 percent of the vote.

Bill Cassidy, a Republican congressman from Baton Rouge, is just behind at 34 percent. And Rob Maness, a retired Air Force colonel from Madisonville with enthusiastic tea party backing, comes in third at 9 percent.

Lay of the Land

Louisiana’s election system dates to the 1970s, when the state’s Democratic Party ran the ideological gamut and statewide elections would pit one Republican against eight or nine qualified Democrats.

The system was designed to ensure the two strongest candidates got on the final ballot, even if they were of the same party.

Former President Bill Clinton and Senator Mary Landrieu Campaign Event in Baton Rouge Louisiana.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, the Democratic incumbent, campaigns in Baton Rouge.

Today, with many of the conservative Democrats having switched to the Republican Party, the situation is reversed. The nine candidates for Senate on the ballot Tuesday include multiple Republicans and right-leaning independents but only one Democrat.

And that Democrat is not having a smooth ride.

Like many Democratic hopefuls, incumbents or not, Landrieu is struggling to distance herself from the increasingly unpopular President Obama.

Landrieu, 58, supported Obama on issues ranging from spending $800 billion in “economic stimulus” to remaking the U.S. health care system under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

Obama didn’t carry Louisiana in either 2008 or 2012, and is even less popular there now. Landrieu also is viewed as having become aloof from the state and more a creature of Washington, D.C.

One ad by an outside group shows District Mayor Vince Gray calling Landrieu a citizen of Capitol Hill, where she has a $2.5 million townhouse, and referring to her as the District’s senator because of all she has done for his city.

Landrieu also came under attack for using taxpayer money to cover campaign flights and for listing that townhouse as her residence on a statement of candidacy filed in January.

Cassidy, 57, a medical doctor who practiced in the state’s charity hospital system, fits the pattern of what many conservatives today call an establishment Republican. He campaigns on health care reform and energy policy, and he enjoys the support of most of the party machinery—statewide and nationally.

Cassidy is a three-term congressman with a slew of endorsements, from the Susan B. Anthony List and the National Rifle Association to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and Louisiana Sen. David Vitter.

Louisiana Senate Campaign

Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., hopes to step up to the U.S. Senate.

Given his close ties to Vitter, a conservative eying governorship in the state, some experts say it is “interesting” that Cassidy is cast as an establishment Republican.

“If there is any one GOP politician in Louisiana [who] Cassidy owes a debt of gratitude to, it’s David Vitter,” says Jeremy Alford, a syndicated columnist in Louisiana, adding:

David Vitter very early on convinced a number of movers and shakers not to run for the U.S. Senate, so he cleared the field for Cassidy. He allowed a member of his staff to run his campaign [and] he was instrumental in getting major players to Louisiana, like [Sen.] John McCain, to campaign for Cassidy.

Maness, who served 32 years in the Air Force but never has held public office, has run a solid and energetic campaign. He visited all 64 parishes, putting more than 80,000 miles on his pickup truck.

By late September, Maness, 52, had gained real momentum. His dogged work and hard line on liberty as well as fiscal, defense and energy issues make him a darling of tea party conservatives.

With endorsements from prominent organizations such as the Senate Conservatives Fund, public figures such as Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, plus talk show giant Mark Levin, Maness became a serious contender.

Maness also has struck the right notes in this year of voter discontent, positioning himself as an alternative to the “career politicians” he says don’t always put Louisiana’s needs first.

Navigating the Jungle

Folks associated with the Cassidy campaign describe Maness as “this political fly they just couldn’t swat away from their face,” says Alford, publisher and editor of LaPolitics.com and LaPolitics Weekly.

“They wish they could have spent 100 percent of their efforts on Landrieu, rather than having to look over their shoulders wondering exactly what Maness is doing.”

Some Republicans fear Maness could spoil the race and give victory—and possibly control of the Senate—to Landrieu and the Democrats. But this is unlikely under the jungle system.

“There’s definitely a feeling that Maness, by staying in this race, is a spoiler; that Cassidy could have had a good shot of building ahead of steam to capture victory in the primary,” says Alford.

Conservative Political Action Conference

Rob Maness, the “other” Republican, doesn’t consider himself a spoiler.

But when it only costs $900 for candidates to enter the jungle primary, even the favorites will have competition. This year, nine Senate hopefuls put their name on the ballot.

Until a few weeks ago, most voters had only heard of two — Cassidy and Landrieu.

 

But with the help of prominent backers, Maness shook things up. Some hope he will be the next David Brat — the underdog who ousted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia’s Republican primary, to the surprise of political gurus of all sorts.

If the race winds up as polls project and Cassidy then can shore up support among Maness voters, he could claim the seat from Landrieu.

Political prognosticator Charlie Cook, a native of the state, lists the race as a toss-up, and the Real Clear Politics average of polls gives Cassidy a 4.5-point lead over Landrieu head to head.

>>> Watch Senate Hopefuls Score Performance of Obama, Jindal in One Sentence

Come as You Are, Leave Different

Louisiana isn’t like most other states. It has parishes instead of counties. It has gumbo instead of soup. It is alone among the states — and joined only by Quebec in all of North America — in basing its laws on the Napoleonic Code rather than the English common law system.

The state’s Democrats are sometimes as conservative as its Republicans. Its voters tend to reward the flamboyant over the substantive. And its politics this year is further complicated by a love-hate relationship with the Republican governor, Bobby Jindal.

Yet, the math seems simple enough. Landrieu appears unlikely to get much more than her current 38 percent. Cassidy has 34 percent now. He presumably would get most of the 9 percent who support Maness and probably enough from the minor candidates to prevail.

But, as is usually the case with Louisiana politics, it’s not that simple.

Geoff Skelley, associate editor of  Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, says tensions between the two Republican candidates reflect the divide between mainstream and tea party Republicans.

>>> 9 Senate Races That Could Tip the Balance of Power

And that could be a problem for Cassidy among more conservative elements of the electorate.

“In this polarized era, more conservative Republicans are loathe to back GOP candidates they consider to be even somewhat moderate, though given Louisiana’s Democratic past, many Democrats-turned-Republicans exist and do well in elections,” Skelley told The Daily Signal, adding:

While Cassidy’s voting record has been conservative during his time in Congress, he’s not known for being a rabble-rouser or for making strong denunciations of the Obama administration. Given his demeanor and Democratic roots, some tea partiers are suspicious of his conservatism.

Louisiana-1024x532

Stay or Get Out?

This explains why establishment Republicans keep suggesting Maness could make matters easier by getting out and giving Cassidy a chance to win outright Tuesday.

Maness told The Daily Signal that isn’t going to happen.

“Our goal is to put America back on track,” he says, adding:

I happen to be a life-long Republican, I’m running on the Republican Party’s platform [and] I wish the party was joining us because their base and my candidacy are all about their platform because we believe in it.

Cassidy’s team would not respond to The Daily Signal’s requests for an interview, or even a comment.

But Gaston Mooney, executive director of  Conservative Review and longtime Republican policy adviser, says Maness is right to ignore establishment calls to drop out.

“Landrieu is in a freefall, so it’s no surprise that the Washington political establishment has begun orchestrating more calls for Maness to drop out,” Mooney says, adding:

With this race looking more winnable for conservatives, this split-the-vote scare tactic is all the establishment has left to throw at Maness. With Landrieu nowhere near the 50 percent needed, it makes these calls even more ridiculous.

Louisiana’s jungle primary provides “the purest example of candidates across the spectrum,” Mooney says, but “the establishment is fearful of that type of referendum vote.”

 

The End Game

Although Skelley says support for Maness “hasn’t dissipated,” a David Brat-like finish is becoming more far-fetched.

On Monday, his former campaign manager attacked Maness’s loyalty to the tea party, calling the retired colonel a “political opportunist.”

“He tries to adapt to different groups,” said John Kerry, who managed Maness’ campaign for six months in 2013. “He made it very clear, ‘I’m not a tea partier. I don’t want to be known as a tea party candidate.’ Then, he learned that was the only way he was going to get funds.”

Kerry sent his email, obtained by the Associated Press, to political activists and community leaders. Kerry claims he isn’t affiliated with the Cassidy campaign or any organization supporting him.

The Maness campaign calls the claims ridiculous.

Even if the claims have some legs, Skelley says, because Maness has yet to cut deeply into Cassidy’s position as the leading Republican, a Cassidy-Landrieu runoff Dec. 6 is “pretty certain.”

But when he gets there, conservatives could take some convincing, Skelley stresses:

Cassidy is going to have about a month to shore up his support among Maness’s backers, a not-insignificant chunk of the electorate, to help him defeat Landrieu.

Brian McNicoll contributed to this report.