Local Libertarian hopes to unseat incumbent congressman

Kirtland man says things he learned while campaigning have changed some of his stances

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
  • Chris Manning faces incumbent U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján.
  • Manning thinks having third-party candidates in office would encourage consensus building.
Chris Manning

FARMINGTON — It has been about nine months since Kirtland resident Chris Manning began campaigning to unseat U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, and less than a month remains before the election.

Since he announced his candidacy in late January, Manning has been campaigning throughout the Third Congressional District. Manning said in a phone interview that campaigning has opened his eyes to some issues and helped him broaden his stances.

For example, his position on health insurance has changed.

While he initially supported a private health insurance system that individuals would buy into — rather than having it provided by employees — he has changed that stance slightly. He still thinks people should choose their health insurance rather than having their employer provide it. However, he said the people who have the most medical problems should be eligible for government-sponsored health insurance.

He explained that having the people who spend the most on health care receive government-sponsored insurance would keep premiums and deductibles lower for the rest of the population.

“I think that actually gives you the best of both worlds,” Manning said.

Manning has an uphill battle as a third-party candidate facing the incumbent Luján, who already has name recognition. Luján is a five-term Congressman who has supported pro-choice legislation as well as renewable energy development. He also is the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Luján visited Farmington last week to rally support for Democratic candidates.

Ben Ray Luján

During his visit, Luján criticized the tax cuts passed in 2017 as benefiting the wealthy by cutting programs like Medicare and Social Security.

Manning is also running against Jerald “Steve” McFall, a conservative Republican who describes himself as pro-life and advocates for deporting all undocumented immigrants with the exception of the people who originally signed up for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and have followed the rules associated with that program.

Manning said, if elected, he would focus on cutting government spending and bringing about a cultural shift in Washington, D.C.

Manning criticized current legislators for working within “tribes” rather than working across the aisle. He said Libertarians bring a negotiating force to Congress and having a third party would encourage consensus building rather than just building up support within the Republican or Democratic parties.

He acknowledged that this election will not be a tipping point for the Libertarian Party.

He said the Libertarian Party’s efforts in this election will be expanded in the 2020 and 2022 election. Manning said voters can expect to see more Libertarian candidates on the ballot, especially in local elections and traditionally uncontested races.

“You’re not going to make change in just one election,” Manning said.

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