WINSTON-SALEM — Second-time congressional candidate Kathy Manning feels very comfortable campaigning in a district quite different from the one where she made her political debut two years ago.
Though well funded and articulate, the Greensboro civic leader and former immigration lawyer lost her 2018 Democratic challenge in the sprawling 13th District to the Republican incumbent from Advance, U.S. Rep. Ted Budd.
But this is 2020 and she's running in a newly compact 6th District —
which includes all of Winston-Salem, part of Kernersville, part of Walkertown and all of Guilford County — on terrain that leans Democrat. It tilts that way so much that she or whoever wins her party's March 3 primary will face no Republican incumbent in the ensuing general election in November.
Neither of the two GOP candidates in their party's 6th District primary — Lee Haywood and Laura Pichardo — have held elective, public office before. Early voting for the March 3 primary began Thursday.
"This is a natural district. It's the Triad district," Manning said of the newly minted 6th.
"For so many years we have been trying to build up an economy as the Triad's. This district fits that."
The Republican incumbent in the current 6th District, U.S. Rep. Mark Walker of Greensboro, announced in mid-December that he would not run in the new district, preferring instead to surrender the seat he first won in 2014.
In addition to Manning, other Democrats in the race to replace Walker include former Guilford County commissioner Bruce Davis of High Point; Rhonda Foxx of Greensboro, a former chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Alma Adams; former state House member Ed Hanes and current state Rep. Derwin Montgomery.
Hanes and Montgomery are Winston-Salem residents, and Montgomery now represents the state House district that Hanes served for nearly six years before he left in August 2018 to pursue a business opportunity.
In a TV interview taped Wednesday with "Triad Today" host Jim Longworth, Manning said she is running again because on a variety of family, health and other issues "things have actually gotten worse" since her initial foray into federal politics.
"I wish I could say all the issues I was worried about ... had been solved. But they haven't," she said, citing a range of concerns from health care and prescription drug prices to the environment, gun violence and threats to women's reproductive rights.
The interview will air this weekend.
Manning told Longworth that President Donald Trump had shown his true colors in his recently released, proposed budget that she said slights health care and many other needs for which the average person has traditionally sought help from the federal government.
"This budget shows what he really is all about," she said of the president.
Relying on the same fundraising skills that have made her a valuable civic volunteer, Manning is the best-funded of her party's 6th District candidates.
With total campaign receipts of nearly $533,000 as of Jan. 1, she raised seven times more than her nearest Democratic rival, Foxx, who had received just more than $75,200 from her supporters.
The larger campaign kitty has given Manning the leeway to air TV commercials at a time some of her opponents are only beginning to deploy their yard signs. She is generally considered to be the race's front-runner.
The new 6th District was redrawn last year as part of settling a successful lawsuit that charged the Republican-led N.C. General Assembly had gerrymandered the state’s current congressional districts to unfairly favor GOP candidates.
In 2018, Guilford was split in two between then districts 6 and 13 that each included outlying counties that provided strong reservoirs of Republican votes.
The new 6th District is confined to all of Guilford and a large chunk of Forsyth County without those less urbanized counties in the current district.
The Republicans on their party’s March 3 primary ballot include Summerfield businessman Haywood and Pichardo, an accounts payable analyst from Pelham.
Pelham, a small community in northwest Caswell County, is outside of the redrawn district. But the law only requires members of Congress to live in the same state as the district they represent.
Manning became the fourth Democratic candidate for the 6th District seat that Longworth has interviewed on his weekly "Triad Today" broadcasts leading up to the primary.
Montgomery will complete the cycle when he appears on next week's show.
Longworth opened his 6th District series last month by interviewing GOP hopefuls Pichardo and Haywood in separate appearances. Two weeks ago, Davis was the guest. Last week, Foxx and Hanes made separate appearances on the same show.
The shows are taped Wednesday afternoons and air at 7:30 a.m. Saturdays on WXLV-Channel 45 and 11 a.m. Sundays on WMYV-Channel 48.
Longworth also plans to broadcast a show the weekend before the March 3 primary that will be a composite of his interviews with all seven Republican and Democratic candidates.