Chris Manning hopes to unseat Ben Ray Luján in Congress

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FARMINGTON — A Kirtland resident is one of the candidates the Libertarian Party of New Mexico hopes to get on the ballot this year.

Chris Manning is gathering signatures to run for New Mexico's 3rd Congressional District, which is currently represented by U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., who is seeking re-election. There is not currently a Republican candidate in the race.

The 3rd Congressional District represents northern New Mexico, including the Santa Fe, Rio Rancho, Clovis and Farmington areas.

Manning is one of seven candidates who have emerged for state and federal elected positions from the Libertarian Party, which is the most recent party to receive major party status in the state. The change in status is due to the number of registered Libertarians in New Mexico and the percentage of people who voted for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson in the 2016 presidential election.

The change in status became official today when Gov. Susana Martinez issued the 2018 primary election proclamation.

In a press release, Manning said the most important issues facing New Mexico include education, fiscal responsibility and health insurance reform. 

Manning said in the press release that education policies need to increase local control, decrease school district size, and increase parental control over what children are taught and how they are taught.

Manning supports decoupling health insurance from employment, eliminating the individual mandate, allowing the consumer to select policies with different premium and deductible levels, and eliminating enrollment periods.

Representing a major party will make it easier for Libertarian candidates to get on the ballot, according to Chris Luchini, the chairman of the Libertarian Party of New Mexico.

Minor-party candidates are currently required to collect 2,564 signatures of registered voters, according to the New Mexico Secretary of State Office website. Since the Libertarian Party is now a major party, Manning only has to collect 77 signatures of registered voters.

The change to major-party status also will allow the Libertarian Party to have primary elections this year.

Luchini said achieving major-party status has helped the Libertarian Party gain new members, including politicians who previously were registered as a Republican or a Democrat.

Current state Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn switched his party affiliation from Republican to Libertarian this year, and former state Rep. Sandra Jeff switched from Democrat to Libertarian. Jeff is running for secretary of state.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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