Man­ning fo­cuses on fight for bet­ter health care in chal­lenge for House seat

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Insight - BY BRIAN MUR­PHY

ance com­pany. How about peo­ple who don’t know you keep fight­ing and they just give up and suf­fer?” Man­ning said in an in­ter­view with McClatchy at Rowan County’s Woodleaf Tomato Fes­ti­val in Au­gust.

Man­ning, like many Demo­cratic chal­lengers this cy­cle, is run­ning on health care — an is­sue that not so long ago pro­pelled Repub­li­cans to ma­jori­ties in the House and Se­nate. More than half of pro-Demo­cratic ads have fo­cused on health care this cy­cle, ac­cord­ing to the Wes­leyan Me­dia Project.

“This is just across the board, in dis­trict af­ter dis­trict, the No. 1 is­sue,” Jeb Fain, se­nior com­mu­ni­ca­tions ad­viser for House Ma­jor­ity PAC, said in a phone in­ter­view. The su­per PAC is linked to House Demo­cratic lead­er­ship.

House Repub­li­cans, in­clud­ing Man­ning’s op­po­nent, Rep. Ted Budd,

voted for the Amer­i­can Health Care Act, which would have re­pealed por­tions of the Af­ford­able Care Act in­clud­ing the man­date for peo­ple to have health in­sur­ance and sub­si­dies for cus­tomers on the ex­changes. It would have weak­ened, though not elim­i­nated, cov­er­age for pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions — one of the most pop­u­lar as­pects of the ACA, of­ten known as Oba­macare.

The Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice es­ti­mated that 14 mil­lion fewer peo­ple would have health in­sur­ance in 2018 and 23 mil­lion fewer would have cov­er­age in 2026 un­der the AHCA as com­pared to the Af­ford­able Care Act. The bill never be­came law, although Con­gress did end the in­di­vid­ual man­date.

“When Con­gress started fight­ing to take health in­sur­ance away from so many mil­lions of peo­ple, I was just so an­gry that they were fo­cus­ing on the wrong is­sue,” Man­ning said.

Budd won the dis­trict with 56 per­cent of the vote in 2016, but Man­ning’s ro­bust fundrais­ing and Demo­cratic en­thu­si­asm have put the dis­trict in play. Lib­er­tar­ian Tom Bai­ley and Green Party can­di­date Robert Cor­ri­her are also on the bal­lot in the dis­trict, which in­cludes parts or all of David­son, Davie, Guil­ford, Ire­dell and Rowan coun­ties.

COM­MU­NITY WORKER

Man­ning, who turns 62 in De­cem­ber, was born and raised in Detroit. Her mother was a teacher; her fa­ther worked at Ford. She went to Har­vard and was the co-founder of the univer­sity’s first all-fe­male a capella group, The Rad­cliffe Pitches.

She grad­u­ated from Univer­sity of Michi­gan Law School where she met her hus­band, Ran­dall Kaplan. Af­ter liv­ing in Wash­ing­ton, the cou­ple moved to Greens­boro more than 30 years ago to help run the Kaplan fam­ily busi­ness. Kay Chem­i­cal Com­pany, founded by Kaplan’s grand­fa­ther and built by his fa­ther, sold for a re­ported $38 mil­lion in 1995.

Man­ning, who has three grown chil­dren, prac­ticed im­mi­gra­tion law in Greens­boro be­fore start­ing her own firm. Man­ning said her work in im­mi­gra­tion law in­volved help­ing small busi­nesses, re­li­gious or­ga­ni­za­tions, hos­pi­tals and schools nav­i­gate “a ridicu­lously com­plex im­mi­gra­tion” sys­tem.

“It’s a real shame we have not had com­pre­hen­sive re­form. Our im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem was built for an en­tirely dif­fer­ent era,” she said. “We need se­cure borders. We need to pro­tect peo­ple. But we’ve got to have a sys­tem that is built for to­day’s world and helps us en­hance our econ­omy.”

Man­ning has been ac­tive in the Greens­boro com­mu­nity for decades. She worked on early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion is­sues with the United Way. She served as chair­woman of the Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion of Greater Greens­boro dur­ing the re­ces­sion, help­ing peo­ple find job re­train­ing, net­work­ing, mort­gage as­sis­tance and food re­lief. She was the first woman to chair The Jewish Fed­er­a­tions of North Amer­ica.

“She’s the epit­ome of a self­less civic sol­dier. She’s not stand­ing around wait­ing for some­one to give her an award,” said Tom Ter­rell, a Greens­boro lawyer who has known Man­ning and her hus­band for decades.

Man­ning has been lauded for her work as chief fundraiser on the $87.4 mil­lion Steven Tanger Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts in down­town Greens­boro. The cen­ter is ex­pected to open in 2020.

Man­ning’s ties to the com­mu­nity have helped cre­ate part of her cam­paign. Shirley Frye, Man­ning’s friend and fre­quent part­ner on civic projects, is email­ing her con­tacts and knock­ing on doors to help Man­ning. Ter­rell and his wife, who have sup­ported can­di­dates from both ma­jor par­ties in the past, have in­vested in just one 2018 cam­paign: Man­ning’s.

Man­ning’s abil­ity to raise money quickly es­tab­lished her in the race. Time Mag­a­zine in­cluded Man­ning’s photo on a Jan­uary cover, ti­tled “The Avengers,” high­light­ing first-time fe­male can­di­dates. A large, blown-up copy of the cover is in Man­ning’s cam­paign of­fice in Greens­boro. The Demo­cratic Con­gres­sional Cam­paign Com­mit­tee in­cluded her in its “Red to Blue” pro­gram, re­served for “top-tier” chal­lengers.

Man­ning raised $2.9 mil­lion through Sept. 30, out­pac­ing Budd ($1.9 mil­lion) and giv­ing her re­sources to launch ex­ten­sive tele­vi­sion ads and di­rect mail.

“We’re go­ing to make sure that peo­ple hear our mes­sage,” Man­ning said.

Man­ning and her hus­band have been a player in Demo­cratic pol­i­tics, do­nat­ing more than $548,000 to the Demo­cratic Party and its can­di­dates, in­clud­ing Barack Obama, Hil­lary Clin­ton, Nancy Pelosi and nu­mer­ous state Demo­cratic can­di­dates.

“I have sup­ported great Democrats and fol­lowed them for many years,” Man­ning said when she launched her cam­paign.

In one cam­paign ad, Budd la­beled Man­ning “a left-wing po­lit­i­cal in­sider” for her po­lit­i­cal giv­ing. When Man­ning an­nounced her in­ten­tion to run, Budd’s cam­paign cre­ated a web­site that called her “Pelosi’s hand-

‘‘ IT’S A REAL SHAME WE HAVE NOT HAD COM­PRE­HEN­SIVE RE­FORM. Kathy Man­ning, on U.S. im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy

picked can­di­date to run against me and buy this seat for their hard-core lib­eral agenda.”

“Look at her giv­ing record and fol­low the money and just say nearly $1 mil­lion has been given to Nancy Pelosi, Bar­bara Boxer, Di­ane Fe­in­stein. That ex­plains it,” Budd said dur­ing an in­ter­view at the Gumtree Fire Depart­ment in David­son County. “It’s quite disin­gen­u­ous to come up on air and the first thing you say in your first ad is, ‘I’m not go­ing to vote for Nancy Pelosi.’”

Man­ning an­nounced in July that she would not sup­port Pelosi for speaker should Democrats win con­trol of the House, say­ing “the only way to change Wash­ing­ton is to change who’s in charge of Wash­ing­ton.” She also re­leased an ad about her de­ci­sion.

Man­ning do­nated to Pelosi twice, $500 in 2002 and $1,000 in 2004, ac­cord­ing to cam­paign fi­nance records. Her hus­band do­nated $1,500 to Pelosi as well, $1,000 in 2006 and $500 in 2002. The cou­ple has given $2,250 com­bined to Boxer, a for­mer Cal­i­for­nia sen­a­tor, and Fe­in­stein, a cur­rent Cal­i­for­nia sen­a­tor. House Ma­jor­ity PAC, which is linked to Pelosi, has spent more than $21,000 against Budd so far, ac­cord­ing to the FEC.

‘BOTH SIDES FAILED’

A law­suit from Repub­li­can state at­tor­neys gen­eral and sup­ported by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion could take down the rest of the Af­ford­able Care Act, in­clud­ing the man­date for cov­er­age of pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions. Con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans have put for­ward plans they say would pro­tect pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tion cov­er­age, but there’s been lit­tle progress.

Since Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion, the pop­u­lar­ity of the ACA has surged to a 50 per­cent fa­vor­able rat­ing com­pared to 40 per­cent un­fa­vor­able, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent Kaiser Health Track­ing poll.

Budd’s most re­cent ad chal­lenges Man­ning on health care, claim­ing that she was a “lib­eral trial lawyer” who “de­fended big health care cor­po­ra­tions, help­ing them get away with hurt­ing peo­ple.” The Budd cam­paign cites her work as an at­tor­ney de­fend­ing med­i­cal com­pa­nies in sev­eral cases brought by pa­tients neg­a­tively im­pacted by their prod­ucts.

Man­ning said when­ever she tells her daugh­ter’s story, peo­ple line up to tell her their sto­ries: hav­ing to choose be­tween med­i­ca­tions be­cause they can’t af­ford both, peo­ple work­ing in the med­i­cal field who can’t af­ford their medicines.

She wants the gov­ern­ment to ne­go­ti­ate drug prices for Medi­care re­cip­i­ents and to go af­ter price gougers, some­thing Man­ning says politi­cians have not done be­cause of con­tri­bu­tions from the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try.

“It’s some­thing where I feel both sides have failed us,” she said. “Sev­eral ad­min­is­tra­tions have failed to take on the drug com­pa­nies. It’s some­thing that we have got to deal with.”

Kathy Man­ning prac­ticed im­mi­gra­tion law in Greens­boro be­fore start­ing her own firm.

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