During his deployment to Afghanistan as a member of the Arizona National Guard in 2007, Chris Manning started to question the federal government.
He was part of surge of troops sent to the Middle East. Manning had assumed his mission was to hunt for Osama bin Laden and try to dismantle al-Qaida.
Instead, he and his platoon spent most of their deployment providing security for civil engineers who were meeting with Afghan leaders and government officials to discuss how the U.S. could help them with road construction, water treatment facilities and other projects.
“I started to see foreign policy firsthand, and I saw a lot of things the government was doing didn’t make sense,” Manning said in an interview. “There was a lot of ‘mission creep,’ what we call it when the military takes on tasks that the military shouldn’t be doing.”
That questioning of foreign policy guided Manning to the Libertarian Party. He is now the party’s candidate for New Mexico’s vacant 1st Congressional District, which will be decided in a June 1 special election.
Despite living in Farmington, which is over 100 miles from the 1st Congressional District, 37-year-old Manning said he believes he could fairly represent the district in Congress. But he acknowledged his long-shot chances.
The U.S. Constitution requires that members of the House of Representatives live in the state they represent but not necessarily the same district.
Manning said the first Libertarian presidential candidate he voted for was former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who was the party’s candidate for president in 2016.
Manning was tapped to be the Libertarian candidate after previously being the candidate for New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District, which represents northern New Mexico.
“He’s young and energetic, committed to the social reforms Libertarians value and the fiscal responsibility we also promote,” said Chris Luchini, the state party chair.
In response to questions from the Journal, Manning said he wants to pass the Justice for Breonna Taylor Act to end federal no-knock warrants, civil asset forfeiture, qualified immunity and the drug war, including decriminalizing the use and possession of all drugs. He also called concerns about climate change “unwarranted alarmism.” He said the country should convert to nuclear power, and New Mexico should eliminate corporate income tax.
Manning’s votes for president have been George W. Bush in 2004, Barack Obama in 2008, Mitt Romney in 2012, Johnson in 2016 and “none of the above” in 2020.
“I didn’t think anyone had earned the vote,” Manning said.
Manning grew up in Kirtland and graduated from Kirtland Central High.
He was a high school athlete, and won back-to-back individual track and field state titles in the javelin in 2001 and 2002, setting a state record his senior year. After high school, he continued to compete in the javelin at Mesa Community College outside Phoenix. He then attended Arizona State University, where Manning ultimately graduated with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education while serving in the Guard. He currently works as a staff auditor for his family’s accounting business.
What are the goals of his campaign?
“I’m a realist. I’m never going to blow smoke … and say this is going to be a close race,” Manning said. “A lot of my running is to raise awareness for the Libertarian Party, to show those dissatisfied voters that there is an alternative to the Democrat and Republican parties.”
Editor’s note: This article has been corrected to clarify Manning’s position on corporate income tax.