Maness vows to make runoff

Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Rob Maness told a Baton Rouge audience Monday that he plans to take a tool chest with him to Washington, D.C., if he is elected to the U.S. Senate in November.

The reason for the tool chest is point No. 4 on what Maness characterizes as his contract with Louisiana: “During my first hour in office, I’ll pop the door off the hinges. Too many crooked deals happen behind closed doors in Washington. I will maintain an open office — accessible to Louisianans over lobbyists.”

Maness, a Madisonville Republican, is widely seen as the underdog in a race that pits U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., against U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge. In April, Maness had $292,784 on hand in campaign cash, compared WITH Landrieu’s $7.5 million and Cassidy’s $5 million.

At the Press Club of Baton Rouge, Maness read his 12-point contract and vowed to restore the red, white and blue in the boldest and brightest colors. He retired in 2011 as an Air Force wing commander.

“I’m not a politician. I don’t have any political connections in Washington, that is,” he said.

Hours before Maness spoke to the press club at a downtown casino, state Rep. Paul Hollis, R-Covington, bowed out of the race. Hollis’ exit leaves just two active Republicans — Maness and Cassidy — in the race.

Maness pledged to commute instead of buying a home in Washington, D.C., visit Louisiana’s 64 parishes every year, limit himself to two terms in office and act as an independent, conservative voice. “My only line in the sand is going to be don’t ask me to compromise on the constitution,” he said.

On key policy decisions, Maness skirted offering firm positions. He doesn’t support raising the Social Security retirement age to 70 but declined to toss out a strategy for reducing the program’s costs. He said he wants to sit down and work collaboratively on solutions.

“I don’t want to tie my hands,” Maness said.

He accused President Barack Obama of violating his constitutional authority and backed the launch of impeachment proceedings. However, Maness wasn’t as firm on whether the president should be impeached, saying he would want to weigh the evidence.

Maness did commit himself as opposed to the controversial Common Core education standards.

As the father of a third-grader, he said he’s seen the program in action as a parent. “It appears to be a national curriculum effort,” he said.

A few of Maness’ campaign promises:

Ensuring that Louisiana-centric dishes are on the menu in the U.S. Senate’s dining room.

Providing a weekly update on his service in Washington, D.C.

Not spending more than 80 percent of his congressional office’s budget.

Follow Michelle Millhollon on Twitter @mmillhollon. For more coverage of Louisiana government and politics, follow our Politics Blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/