Will the second time be the charm for retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness? He was one of the first to announce for the open Senate seat vacated by David Vitter. This week, he begins his first statewide tour to promote his “Contract With Louisiana” platform.
While Maness has hit the ground running, he’s still seen as a long-shot by many insiders. But he hopes his populist message will carry him through like it has for Donald Trump and others this election.
Here’s what his “Contract With Louisiana” says:
1. I will always preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
2. I will always put the people of Louisiana above lobbyists, special interests and political parties. I’ll be a Senator for the people, not the powerful.
3. I will live in Louisiana, not Washington D.C.
4. I will be transparent and explain every vote I cast to the people of Louisiana on Facebook.
5. I will visit all of Louisiana’s 64 parishes each year that I am in office.
6. I will never vote for a bill that I do not read. I will sponsor legislation that requires Congress to read bills before passing them into law.
7. I will never become a career politician. I will limit myself to two terms in the Senate and will sponsor and champion term limits legislation during my time there.
8. I will not kowtow to political correctness. I will always tell the truth as I see it.
9. I will not spend more than 80 percent of the budget for my congressional office and will return what’s left over to the treasury. I’ll be a steward of your tax-dollars and will find cuts wherever and whenever I can.
10. I will live by the laws Congress passes for others. Congress should NEVER exempt themselves from the requirements they impose on the people.
11. I will never ask you to put your faith in me. Faith should be reserved for the Almighty, not politicians. I will ask for your prayers, and together we can restore the principles of our Republic so it can get back to working for us.
12. Finally, while you may not always agree with me, if I tell you I’m going to do something, I will do it.
It’s a populist message on transparency to go along with Maness’s populist messages on everything from guns to taxes. He’s trying to run as the candidate of what’s left of the tea party movement in Louisiana, while at the same time reach out to libertarian voters.
One of the architects of Maness’s strategy for this race is his campaign manager, Andrew Surabian. The Massachusetts native previously worked with Tea Party Express and had even dealt with the Maness campaign in 2014. Tea Party Express endorsed Maness then. This is the first time Surabian has worked a race in Louisiana.
Last week, Maness got the endorsement of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. This shouldn’t be a surprise considering that there is a Rand Paul connection on Maness’s staff. The first hire the campaign made was Rand Paul presidential campaign alum Lauren Bosler. Bosler even had her 15 minutes of fame when she first introduced Rand Paul when he launched his bid for president.
Finally, there is a Louisiana component to Team Maness. The Maness campaign brought on board John Mathis, who was the architect behind the “Stop The Buddy System” campaign that helped defeat Attorney General Buddy Caldwell last year. Mathis has been brought on board to provide a Louisiana face to the campaign and to help Surabian and Bosler navigate Louisiana’s unique political environment.
Can Maness ride a populist wave to victory? That depends on how much traction he can get over Congressman John Fleming, who is running on a similar populist message, and Abhay Patel, who is running on a similiar libertarian, outsider message. That fight for that populist, tea party, and libertarian lanes is going to be very crowded indeed.