Declaring himself the only leader in the key Louisiana U.S. Senate race, retired U.S. Air Force Col. Rob Maness says he is the best choice to address tough problems and challenge the leadership of both parties.
While the presidential campaign is sure to dominate the political headlines all year, the fight for control of the U.S. Senate is in full swing and a battle in the Louisiana bayou will provide of the critical tests for direction of the Republican Party and the balance of power in Washington.
Republicans currently hold 54 Senate seats but are playing defense far more than Democrats as a result of the GOP’s strong performance in 2010. Several incumbent Republicans are retiring and open seats mean crowded fields in several states. Louisiana is one of them.
Republican Sen. David Vitter is retiring after two terms. While the seat is likely to stay in Republican hands, voters will have to decide which Republican gets the nod. In addition to Maness, Rep. John Fleming and Rep. Charles Boustany are in the race, along with State Treasurer John Kennedy.
Maness says he’s running again in 2016 because the United States is craving real leadership.
“I am the outsider. I’m a proven fighter. I fought for my country for 32-and-a-half years. I have a proven track record of leadership that’s not a political. It’s a military track record of leadership and a corporate track record of leadership and a community track record of leadership. That’s what the American people and the people of Louisiana are demanding,” said Maness.
Fleming boasts an 88 percent rating from Heritage Action, while Boustany scores a 58. The American Conservative Union gives them ratings of 96 and 68 respectively.
Maness says he doesn’t have a lot of negative things to say about his opponents, but he still insists they all lack the most important quality.
“They’re all friends of mine. I helped a lot of them get elected. I voted for one of them because the job he’s doing at the state level is doing a good job at it. But they’re not leaders. They’re not proven leaders that are going to go up and lead,” said Maness.
“In order to lead you’re going to have to go up and push back against the party leadership that you’re a part of on minute one. I’m going to be joining folks like Mike Lee, Ted Cruz if he still happens to be there, Rand Paul if he happens to still be there. Those folks all demonstrated that they would go up and push back regardless of the political consequences. That’s what the people are expecting,” said Maness.
He painted a a contrast between that approach and what he’s seen from his two opponents serving in Congress.
“If they’ve been messing around and voting for the likes of John Boehner or voting for the likes of Paul Ryan, the people are going to reject them. They’re going to reject my opponents in this race because they’re all political insiders. They’ve come up the career political track and they’re all career politicians,” said Maness.
Maness also says he’s running because all of our problems keep getting worse.
“Our country is broken. It’s in worse condition than it was three years ago when I decided to run against Bill Cassidy and Mary Landrieu. Today , we’re weaker than we’ve ever been. Our allies can’t trust us and our enemies don’t respect or fear us. Our military’s weaker than it’s ever been,” said Maness.
Other issues concern him greatly, starting with our sluggish economy.
“Our economic situation is not very good. We were able to prevent a great depression but we had a great recession and we’re in the longest and worst recovery that we’ve ever seen in the nation’s history,” said Maness.
He’s also ready to do something about border security.
“Our borders are still not secure. Illegal aliens are coming across our border and taking our jobs and making our country insecure. They’re getting through not just our borders but our immigration system as we saw in the San Bernardino attacks. It’s easy to fool our immigration system and get through,” said Maness.
On issues of special importance to Louisiana, Maness says he would be a tireless advocate of expanding markets for American energy. He also wants to wipe away government regulations that he says are hampering the fishing industry along the Gulf Coast.
In 2014, Maness finished third in an eight-man “jungle primary.” In Louisiana, all candidates are on the same ballot, regardless of party. Unless one candidate wins a majority of the vote, the top two finishers advance to a run-off.
Maness grabbed almost 14 percent of the vote but finished well behind Landrieu’s 42 percent and Cassidy’s nearly 41 percent.
Maness says he will be much more competitive this time because his name is already known this time, whereas he was a complete unknown two years ago.
“According to one of my opponent’s Super PAC polls that came out in December, I start the race with the second highest name identification and the second highest favorability ratings,” said Maness.
He says he was also visibly active for conservative candidates and causes in last year’s key state races.
“We built a lot capital with the grassroots, not only at the tea party level and the outside the party level, but at the Republican Party level. I think we’ve got a great advantage because of that and we already have a solid voter base,” said Maness.