Louisiana GOP Senate field swells

Louisiana state Rep. Paul Hollis has jumped in the race for Senate, becoming the third Republican in the Pelican State looking to take down Sen. Mary Landrieu (D).

The development further complicates the GOP’s hopes of toppling Landrieu, a top target in 2014, and one of the Democrats' most vulnerable incumbents.

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Hollis indicated to The Times-Picayune he plans to run as a conservative anti-establishment alternative to the two other Republicans already in the race: Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) and retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness.

"I've been watching this race very closely for some time, and it just appeared to me the two apparent front-runners are just your normal Washington crowd," Hollis said. "I think there is an appetite for somebody new in this campaign [and] I think my candidacy will certainly make this interesting."

Cassidy is the pick of Washington Republicans to take on Landrieu, as observers believe his background as a physician makes him well-positioned to hammer her on issues with ObamaCare, where they believe she might be most vulnerable.

But Louisiana’s jungle primary system, in which all candidates, regardless of party, are on the primary ballot together, means multiple Republicans could fracture the GOP vote and send the race into a runoff.

There, Republicans are less certain of their chances against Landrieu.

Hollis told The Times-Picayune that the upset of an outsider candidate over the establishment GOP pick in Louisiana’s 5th District special election in part inspired him to run.

He said he’ll campaign on a platform of smaller government, free-market policies and opposition to ObamaCare, with a focus on “speaking to Louisiana,” and plans to rely largely on grassroots fundraising to draw the millions he admitted he’ll need to run a successful campaign.