HIGH POINT ENTERPRISE: Manning seeks Democratic nod to take on Budd
HIGH POINT — Congressional candidate Kathy Manning’s inspiration for making her first bid for elected office personifies the phrase that the personal is political.
Five years ago, Manning’s youngest daughter contracted a chronic illness, one she manages but will have to contend with throughout her life. The illness served as a shock, especially because at the time her daughter was 20 years old.
But Manning, an attorney, community leader and businesswoman from Greensboro, said the experience gave her a sobering personal insight into the health insurance system.
“We got her to a great doctor who said there are medications that can keep your condition under control. You can lead a perfectly normal life,” said Manning, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to take on freshman Rep. Ted Budd, R-13th, in the fall general election.
But Manning said she and her family realized that their daughter now had a pre-existing condition, one that could be potentially ruled out from coverage if the Affordable Care Act, known commonly as Obamacare, was repealed.
And even under the current health insurance system, Manning said her family struggled with her insurer.
“Her medication required prior approval, and she couldn’t get them to approve it. So I spent days fighting with my insurance company,” Manning said.
At one point in an exasperating conversation, Manning told an insurance representative that her daughter probably would be back in the hospital if she couldn’t get her medication.
“He told me, ‘She can always buy the medication herself and seek reimbursement. I said, ‘How much is that going to cost?’ There was this long silence, then he said, ‘$10,000.’ I was just infuriated,” Manning said during an interview Monday while visiting High Point.
Since she began campaigning months ago for the Democratic nomination, Manning said she’s heard recurring stories like these from people she’s met across the district stretching from Iredell County to southwestern Guilford County. Manning said defending the interests of people on “kitchen table issues” is the primary reason she’s running for Congress.
If she wins the Democratic primary in a race against Adam Coker of Greensboro in the May 8 primary, she would go up against Budd in the Nov. 6 general election. The 13th District covers the vast majority of High Point and all of Davidson County.
If her fundraising provides any indication, Manning’s campaign is in it for the long haul. On Monday, her campaign announced it has raised more than $600,000 in the first three months of this year, bringing her overall total raised to more than $1.1 million since announcing her campaign in December. The campaign also reported Monday that it has more than $1 million cash on hand at the end of March.
Manning’s campaign has benefited from being highlighted by national Democratic Party leaders in the Red to Blue Campaign. While not a formal primary endorsement, national party leaders have indicated that they believe Manning is the Democratic candidate with the best chance of winning in the general election.
The Ted Budd for Congress campaign reports $515,000 in cash on hand and has raised nearly $300,000 during the most recent campaign finance reporting cycle. The new campaign manager for Budd’s re-election, Elizabeth Oglesby, said the campaign remains confident voters will reject Manning’s liberal and out-of-touch values.
Budd will stand by his conservative track record during the past two years if he faces Manning, Oglesby told The High Point Enterprise.
“That’s why she’s backed by the far left’s political insiders, including Nancy Pelosi’s DCCC, Steny Hoyer’s PAC and out of touch interest groups like Emily’s List and NARAL. She’ll need more money than that to hide her agenda, and no doubt she’ll keep raking it in from all around the country as they try to buy this seat for Nancy Pelosi,” Oblesby said.
Manning was non-committal about whether she would vote as a congresswoman to restore Pelosi to speaker of the House should the Democrats take control of the chamber in the general election.
“I would make that decision the way I make all decisions. I would get all the information and know what my options are,” she said. “I don’t know who would be running against her (for House speaker). I’m not going to make a decision where I don’t have all the facts. And I would hope that’s how I’d make all my decisions.”
Manning said one quality she would bring to Congress is the ability to work with people of different backgrounds, including people who disagree with her. That would come into play if she joins Congress and deals regularly with Republican President Donald Trump and his White House.
“If I’m elected and go to Washington, and if there are issues that the president presents that I agree with, I will be willing to work with him on those issues,” she said. “But where there are issues where I don’t agree with him, I will not be afraid to stand up to him.”
Manning told The Enterprise during an interview Monday morning that she hopes her family ties to High Point will help her with name recognition at the polls.
Her father-in-law, the late Leonard Kaplan, was a businessman who developed Kay Chemical Co. into a global supplier of janitorial products. Kaplan grew up in High Point and graduated from High Point College, now HPU.
Manning said she has been coming to High Point off and on since 1981, which has given her an understanding of the city and High Point Market.
“I bought almost every stick of furniture in my house from High Point,” she quipped.