Louisiana Tea Party candidate wrestles an alligator in first ad

Tea Party candidate Rob Maness wrestles an alligator in his first ads of the Louisiana Senate race, pledging to “stand up to the career politicians — and the alligators.”

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The former Air Force colonel, one of three Republicans challenging Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) this cycle, launched radio and television ads on Thursday that feature the wily reptiles that populate the Louisiana swamps.

“Here in Louisiana you learn to be tough,” Maness declares in the television ad, as alligators bare their teeth. “One moment of weakness and the alligators could eat you alive.”

Maness pledges to “stand up to the big spenders,” push for ObamaCare repeal and protect gun rights, each punctuated by an alligator chomp. The ad closes with Maness taping an alligator’s mouth shut as he tells the audience he approved the message “because Louisiana needs a senator that’s going to stand up to the career politicians — and the alligators.”

His radio ad hits all the same notes, again punctuated by an alligator’s chomp, and a narrator dubs Maness “tough enough to take on President Obama and Harry Reid in the D.C. swamps.”

Maness is the early Tea Party-backed alternative to the establishment pick in the race to take on Landrieu, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.). Maness, Cassidy and the third GOP candidate, state Rep. Paul Hollis, will all face off on the same ballot as Landrieu in November, and if no candidate tops 50 percent support the race will head to a runoff.

Thus far, Maness hasn’t managed to pick up much traction in the race, but that could shift as the race heats up. On Thursday, Maness also nabbed the endorsement of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a Tea Party star who's likely to give him a boost among the grass roots.