Republican Senate hopeful Rob Maness says standing up to big spenders in Washington is no different than wrestling an alligator.

So the first TV ad of his campaign in Louisiana features Maness taming one of the state's designated reptiles, complete with images of gators lurking in the swamps, showing off their teeth and snapping their jaws.

"Here in Louisiana you learn to be tough," says Maness, a retired Air Force colonel. "One moment of weakness and the alligators eat you alive."

Maness is hoping to unseat Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, but has been lagging in fundraising behind GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy. If no candidate gets 50% on Nov. 4, the top two finishers will face off in a December runoff.

"Louisiana needs a senator who will stand up to career politicians," Maness says in the ad, "and the alligators."

Maness' TV and radio campaign is backed by a $50,000 ad buy. The ad was released as Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin announced her endorsement of Maness.

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