The Louisiana conservative running for the state’s jungle primary for Senate against Democrat Sen. Mary L. Landrieu told Human Events he is running to unseat Landrieu because she is bad for the state, bad for the nation.
“Really it doesn’t matter what letter is behind their name, and I happen to be a Republican, but I’m more concerned about America and Louisiana at this point than I am any political parties,” said retired Air Force Col. Robert Maness, a fighter pilot and combat veteran of Iraq, Afghanistan and special operations mission.
“I made the decision and announced our candidacy on May 13, 2013, and I’m convinced it was the correct decision, especially based on what we’re seeing today,” he said. “The Washington politicians and the incumbents, and the incumbents trying to get promoted from the house to the senate that have been in politics are failing the country.”
Maness said a key issue is the effort to restore American gun rights.
“We have some of the most ardent gun owner communities and populations in the United States, and we should,” he said.
“We live in a beautiful natural resources area and hunting and fishing is a part of our heritage, a part of our economy. Folks really revere the right to keep and bear arms,” he said. “We’ve found that when people are armed and trained, that they’re safer and the communities that have those types of freedoms are able to live free of crime and those kinds of things much more often than those that don’t.
In Louisiana, gun owners are still very much aware of the situation during the recovery from Hurricane Katrina, when law enforcement officers went door-to-door seizing firearms, he said.
“I’ve heard from people all over the state that talked about it, especially down in the disaster areas that we’re hardest hit,” he said. “The tragic stories about their only means of protection being forcibly taken aware from them, and they were just devastated by that. Many of them left the area because of that. It’s just the absolutely wrong thing to do.”
In addition to fighting the expansion of background checks for gun transaction, Maness said he will support national concealed carry reciprocity. “I’m an advocate of national concealed reciprocity. I’m a concealed carry permit holder myself.”
The jungle primary is a unique system that makes the party primary and the general election the same event, in this case Nov. 4. If no candidate garners more than 50 percent of the vote, the general is treated as the primary and the top two vote getters, regardless of party go on to a one-on-one runoff.
There are several candidates running for the Senate seat, but the top three are GOP Rep. William Cassidy, Maness and Landrieu.
In nearly all the polls, Landrieu is holding on to support in the 40s, with Cassidy and Maness splitting the difference, Cassidy in the mid-20s and Maness in the high teens.
The race’s dynamic is playing out as a story of two missing men, President Barack Obama and Cassidy.
Obama is very unpopular in Louisiana and tell her Landrieu tell it, she never heard of him.
Cassidy is another story. Cassidy is not comfortable on the campaign trail or on stage. He main strength seems to be following orders and someone has ordered him into hiding—so much so that Maness and Laundrieu have met for a series of debates without Cassidy.
Cassidy is the choice of the Republican leadership. In the past, it was considered unethical for the party leadership to weigh in on primaries, but this year in races all over the country, the GOP leadership has put its thumb on the scale for transactional politicians running against conservatives.
In Mississippi, the National Republican Senate Committee’s war against conservative Chris McDaniel had GOP staffers going into black neighborhoods to sign up Democrats to vote in the Republican primary runoff.
Maness said the Republican leadership has handled the race in his state poorly.
“I’m very disappointed in my party, which I’ve been a member of since I was 19 and had cast my first vote ever for President Reagan,” he said.
“I’m still a member of it and I’m running as a Republican on the Republican platform but the national parties and the state party have interfered in this primary,” he said. “They have interfered to the point where the state party has endorsed my moderate-to-liberal opponent because they’re more comfortable with him.”
The fighter pilot said Cassidy is a product of the Republican farm team system. “He’s somebody that’s come up through the ranks and he was able to raise a couple million dollars before he started.”
It would have been fair to have waited to see both candidates on the campaign trail against Landrieu before judging their prospects and deciding who to support, he said. “But they chose to interfere with this, and the national party and the NRSC have not stayed out of it either. They have interfered and are back to him from what I can see even though they try to make it look like they’re not. In some cases they’re openly backing him, and that’s disappointing.”
Landrieu, a member of a Louisiana political dynasty, has failed the voters who trusted her to look out for them, the colonel said.
“She’s failed Louisiana first of all by being the deciding vote for Obamacare. I’ve been in all 64 parishes in the state and I’ve talked to small business owners and employees of small businesses in every parish. The message is the same: that it is killing jobs,” he said. “The owners are not able to create jobs and the employees are losing 40-hour-a-week jobs and being given less than 30-hour-a-week jobs because of the law and what the preparations for the employer mandate and those kinds of things.”
Whatever the promises, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has become a drag on the economy, he said.
“The real killer is that small businesses are not able to thrive under this law and they can’t create the jobs and that’s where 85 percent of the jobs are created in this country,” Maness said.
“There was a woman up in Coushatta area where it was a catfish-type of restaurant,” he said. “Buying catfish is very popular up in that area of the state. We were there holding a meet and greet event and she took me aside and, without prompting, told me that she was thinking about closing her doors because of the new fees and taxes and all of the issues associated with Obamacare,” he said.
“She told me that she couldn’t create the jobs that she needed and she needed to create three more positions, but because of the new fees and taxes she could barely break even on most events. In a lot of them like after-hours catering they are no longer breaking even so she’s seriously considering shutting her doors,” he said. “That would mean the loss of 20 jobs and the people working in those jobs are on the low end of the economic spectrum and the ones that need the help in the first place.”
The colonel said it is more than just jobs that are lost when Obamacare closes a business.
“The owners are fulfilling their dreams of running their own business, and most of them that I talked to are very dedicated to their communities and they really enjoy being able to provide jobs to people,” he said.
As the canidates enter the race final sprint to the finish line, both Landrieu and Cassidy are slipping, while Maness continues to gain strength.
Going into the Jungle Primary, the question Capitol Hill conservatives are asking is: Will the GOP leadership would support Maness in the runoff or concede the seat to Landrieu?