Buying of the President

Published — July 19, 2016

Senate candidate to attend ‘about 35’ fundraisers, events during GOP convention

Louisiana Republican Senate candidate Rob Maness in 2014. Melinda Deslatte/AP

Louisiana’s Rob Maness trails badly in polls, hunt for campaign cash


CLEVELAND — For retired Col. Rob Maness, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Louisiana, the real action at the Republican National Convention is everywhere but the Quicken Loans Arena, where delegates are gathering this week to nominate presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Instead, his focus is on the back-to-back-to-back-to-back fundraisers, parties and meet-and-greets his campaign has scheduled for him this week.

How many such private events, exactly?

“About 35,” Maness told the Center for Public Integrity on Sunday while waiting to clear security outside a party at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “Look, everyone you want to see is all here at once. I’m just hoping we get in touch with the right folks here. It saves a lot of time and effort.”

Raising money during the convention is essential for Maness, one of several candidates vying to replace outgoing Sen. David Vitter, R-La.

Louisiana’s “jungle primary” elections are decidedly novel: All candidates run in the November election. If no single candidate achieves 50 percent of the vote on Election Day, the top two vote-getters — regardless of party — advance to a December runoff.

Despite placing third in the state’s 2014 U.S. Senate election, Maness is trailing several of his opponents in recent polls, including Republican Reps. John Fleming and Charles Boustany Jr., Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy and Democrat Foster Campbell, a state public service commissioner. Former Republican Rep. Joseph Cao and several other contenders are also in the mix.

As of July 2, Maness had about $200,000 in the bank, not counting about $95,000 in reported campaign debt.

Fleming, for one, had about 12 times the cash on hand: about $2.4 million.

Maness says his approach to wooing donors is straightforward: Tell his personal story, because “nobody else has the story that I do.”

That story begins with Maness’ military service — he is a highly decorated veteran with broad Air Force leadership experience. And it ends with how he believes that resume makes him eminently qualified to better secure the nation’s southern border, fight terrorists and otherwise defend against threats both foreign and domestic.

But he knows he won’t have the opportunity to press that agenda in Washington, D.C., unless he’s financially competitive.

Which is why, he said with a smile, “everything is about fundraising.”

And with that, his campaign fundraiser pulled him aside so he could talk with two women from Texas who had expressed interest in making donations.

Read more in Money and Democracy

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