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Eleven! Can I say it too often? That’s how many seats Dems need if they’re going to to take the House. And HD 16 in St. Charles is one of the 17 or 18 chances we have statewide to reach the magic number. So Kristy Manning’s candidacy matters. And it just got stronger, because her primary competition, Tom Fann, has dropped out in order to run for the St. Charles County Council.

Opting for the County Council race was a smart move for Fann. He stands a better chance of winning that contest, and he improves the chances of us getting the state rep seat. Here’s why: Fann, who just lost the special election there on Feb. 5th, wouldn’t, realistically, have been likely to succeed on the second try.

Manning, though, has a credible shot at it, and Fann’s withdrawal strengthens her prospects.

The DPI number (Democratic Performance Index) for that district is somewhere between 46 and 47. It’ll take more than 47 percent, of course, to win that election, but consider these additional factors in Kristy’s favor:

There’s a Democratic groundswell this year. That oughta be worth a point or two. Note that 52 percent of the primary voters in HD16 took Democratic ballots.

Furthermore, conventional wisdom holds that a well organized field campaign is worth somewhere between two and five points. The full name of the only Democrat left in this race is Kristy Organized Hard-working Manning.  

Her opponent, Mark Parkinson, did some field work in his matchup with Fann, though it’s not easy to get a handle on just how much. Because Republicans typically have more cash to spread around, they’re more likely than Dems to throw money at a race. But since Parkinson will only have eight months worth of incumbency under his belt come election day, he might feel vulnerable enough to hit the streets. Count his field game as an unknown factor in the race.

Then there’s Kristy herself: energetic, articulate, attractive. On paper, she and Parkinson start about even. Both are thirty-something and newly married, with little on their resumes beyond having been legislative aides (she for Joan Bray, he for Kit Bond). But Kristy says that when she talks to people at their door, she surprises them by not being easily pigeonholed. I asked if she could give me an example.

Sure, she said. She doesn’t run from the fact that she’s pro-choice, but people tend to assume that that stance implies a whole slew of other beliefs, like being for gun control. Kristy points out that if you’re going to grant that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to choose, perhaps you should also grant that it protects the right of citizens to own guns. She tells people that just as she believes there should be laws to regulate abortions and make them safe, there should also be laws to regulate guns and make their use safer.

She also plans to stress, in talking to people, that she has experience in how state politics works. One important lesson she’s learned is how necessary it is to have conversations with the other side and find the areas where compromise will work.

Manning is a fine candidate, with an odds-on chance of taking that seat.

One curmudgeon at Political Fix expressed doubts when she filed in late March:

Fann will win the primary and lose the general, again. And if by some fluke he doesn’t win the primary, Parkinson’s margin of victory against Manning will be even greater than it would have been against Fann.

No use in waiting 4 months, start crying in your beer now Manning supporters. Let the games begin.

We’ll see if “Jackson” is right, but I don’t think so. Manning is a smart money bet.