Alligator-tamer, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, and Republican candidate for the United States Senate in Louisiana, Rob Maness, has been formally endorsed by former reality television star, Sarah Palin.
"In the Louisiana Senate race we have the opportunity to send a true conservative and a real warrior to join that fight. So, today I am lending my support to retired Col. Rob Maness for U.S. Senate," Palin said in her endorsement.
Palin called Maness "a true conservative" for "opposing amnesty, pledging to protect our Second Amendment rights, and promising to defund Obamacare. As the grandfather of a now healthy 2-year-old baby grandson born at just 28 weeks and 2 lbs., 5 oz., he knows first hand the miracle of life and promises to protect it."
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."
Palin's endorsement wasn't the only big campaign news for Maness on Thursday.
The Tea Party candidate also released his first TV ad, "Gator." In the 30-second commercial, Maness says "here in Louisiana, you learn to be tough," accompanied by footage of an apparently unhappy alligator. "One moment of weakness, and the alligators can eat you alive."
Maness promises that in Washington, he'll "stand up the big spenders, fight to repeal Obamacare, and I'll protect our gun rights."
As Maness ties a rope around an alligator's jaw, he declares, "Louisiana needs a Senator who will stand up to the career politicians, and the alligators."