LOUISIANA | LA-sen

Oppo Video Spurs Tea Party Clash

Local and national activists are fighting over whether to back Maness or Fleming.

Feb. 18, 2016, 10:25 a.m.

“Louisi­ana’s crowded open-seat Sen­ate race of­fers the tea-party move­ment one of its few pickup op­por­tun­it­ies this year, … but divisions with­in the grass­roots over who will carry that mantle—House Free­dom Caucus found­ing mem­ber John Flem­ing (R-04) or 2014 Sen­ate can­did­ate Rob Maness (R)—are threat­en­ing to weak­en both po­ten­tial pro­spects.”

“The web­site Con­ser­vat­ive Re­view pub­lished a leaked video Thursday of Flem­ing ad­dress­ing a con­stitu­ent for­um in 2008 and ‘lament­ing a lack of il­leg­al ali­ens to fill Amer­ic­an jobs,’ as the post’s au­thor wrote.” “While the source of the video is un­known, the dir­ect shot at Flem­ing’s con­ser­vat­ive cre­den­tials un­der­scores the pre­cari­ous situ­ation both he and Maness face in the five-way primary. Both need to lock down the same ideo­lo­gic­al base to be com­pet­it­ive against the top con­tenders, Rep. Charles Bous­tany (R-03) and state Treas­urer John Kennedy (R).”

“In the short term, that’s caus­ing their al­lies to turn their guns on each oth­er rather than on Bous­tany or Kennedy, and it’s giv­ing some na­tion­al groups pause about their in­volve­ment in the race.”

So far Senate Conservative Fund, Club for Growth, and Freedom­Works “have re­mained neut­ral” on the race. “All have ex­pressed an in­terest in uni­fy­ing their ef­forts this cycle, par­tic­u­larly in pro­mot­ing Sen­ate can­did­ates from the House Free­dom Caucus, but re­ac­tions to the video Thursday were mixed.”

SCF said in a state­ment that the video was “con­cern­ing” and “not the kind of thing a con­ser­vat­ive would ever say.”

“Back in Louisi­ana, Bob Re­id, spokes­man for the Tea Party of Louisi­ana, which backs Maness, said his group is do­ing everything it can to shut down an in­tern­al primary with­in the con­ser­vat­ive move­ment. Re­id said he was con­tac­ted by Freedom­Works to dis­cuss the pos­sib­il­ity that the group might sup­port Flem­ing, and he re­spon­ded in a let­ter de­mand­ing the group stay out.” (Hotline reporting)

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