Former Coach Running For Congress As Pro-Life Independent

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Brewster resident Michael Manley coached primarily baseball and softball for nearly 50 years, but now he has another goal:  representing Massachusetts’s Ninth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Manley, who voted for President Donald Trump in 2016, is running for Congress as an independent.

“People say I’m crazy, I’m a longshot and don’t have a chance, but if I told you last year that you’d be sitting at home quarantined with nothing to do for 10 weeks starting in March, I would’ve sounded crazy,” he told New Boston Post in a telephone interview.

Manley said part of the reason why he is running is that he is unhappy with incumbent U.S. Representative Bill Keating (D-Bourne) in recent years.

“He was doing pretty good for the district, I gotta admit,” Manley said of Keating in his first couple of years, when he represented the now-defunct 10th district. “I didn’t believe in everything he did. But I think he’s petrified of what happens if he doesn’t vote with the party every time now, of what will happen to his career. I don’t think he’s representing us anymore. I think he’s strictly a party guy. His type of being a Democrat has been hijacked by the extreme left. And the Republican Party in Massachusetts, there’s not much difference. They’re more like the blue dog Democrats of years ago.”

Manley, 71, has lived on Cape Cod since retiring from his work in education — as a dean and as a teacher in New York City — in 2006. He served as the varsity softball head coach at St. John Paul II High School in Hyannis from 2014 to 2019. This past spring would have been his final season if not for the coronavirus pandemic.

During his time in New York, Manley said, he had students that were murdered, died of AIDS, did not have enough to eat at home, and at least one who got bit by a rat while sleeping.

Public education is a major priority for Manley.

“They say that there are injustices in lack of equality in health care and education,” he said. “I’m a union guy, but I believe in competition. I believe in charter schools. My motto is, ‘kids first, kids second, and kids always.’ Get the money to the kids and not the administrators. We have to get more money into the system to help get first, second, and third graders learn to read. They shouldn’t be going on to fourth grade if they can’t read because that’s gonna be a disaster down the road. I was in a school that had a 35 percent dropout rate, and those kids couldn’t read. They became behavior problems, and they gave up and left.”

According to the web site Begin to Read, more than 60 percent of prison inmates in the United States are “functionally illiterate.” Additionally, about two-thirds of children who cannot read proficiently by the end of fourth grade end up either on welfare or incarcerated.

Manley also told New Boston Post that he is pro-life, supports a market-based health care system with the existing safety net, opposes defunding the police, and would support allowing small business entrepreneurs to enroll in Medicare for the first two years of creating their business since many of them do not turn a profit in that timespan.

On the issue of abortion, Manley told New Boston Post, “I’ve lost a lot of signatures by saying that, but it’s my conviction. I don’t need your signature that bad to compromise my position.”

And when it comes to defunding the police, Manley said that Keating will have to answer for what some of his fellow Democrats support.

“You send a social worker to a domestic abuse case, and what happens if that person gets hurt?,” he asked.

“You can’t defund the police,” he added. “My question to Keating is what’s your party’s end game:  is it socialism, is it defunding the police? I know they want to abolish ICE, but you have to have immigration enforcement.”

Manley has been spending his days gathering signatures to get on the November ballot. He has until July 28 to submit 2,000 certified signatures of registered voters to earn his spot. Manley said that means he needs about 3,000 signatures because some of those could be marked invalid.

Party-affiliated U.S. House candidates had until May 5 to submit 1,000 valid signatures — half the regular requirement because of the coronavirus pandemic. They were also able to collect signatures online. However, Manley is not allowed to do either.

“I called them up, and asked if they were lowering it for me,” he said of Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin’s office. “They told me I still have to get 2,000 because I get until July, so I told them, ‘it’s still a pandemic, you know?’ I was ready to send out the electronic signatures, but I can’t do that. That seems a little unfair to me. I want a level playing field. It’s like starting a game and giving the other team 10 runs. But hey, I won’t cry about it. I’ll still go out there and get them.”

Debra Goldberg, a spokesman for the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office, confirmed to New Boston Post by telephone on Monday what Manley said:  non-party candidates need 2,000 signatures to appear on the November ballot.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court case that lowered the signature requirement for candidates to get on the ballot (Robert Goldstein and others vs. Secretary of the Commonwealth) only applied to party-affiliated candidates.

“Candidates for Federal and Statewide offices who are not affiliated with a party also must satisfy certain minimum signature requirements to appear on the general election ballot in November,” the court decision states. “The deadlines for the submission and filing of their nomination papers, however, do not expire until July 28 and August 25, 2020.  … 

“Federal and Statewide nonparty candidates, therefore, are not similarly situated to the plaintiffs,” the court added. “Nor has anyone appeared in this action and challenged the signature requirements and deadlines for nonparty candidates for Federal or Statewide offices.  Therefore, we do not address the constitutionality of those requirements and deadlines.”

On the ballot, Manley said he would not be allowed to put “Coach” in front of his name, but he plans to put “Coach Team America” for his political party.

Manley told New Boston Post that once he gets that part taken care of, he will then focus on the other aspects of running for office — like getting a web site, social media accounts, or having campaign events.

In addition to Manley, Keating and Republican Helen Brady of Concord are running to win the seat. (Brady’s status is uncertain after a ruling last week from the State Ballot Law Commission denying her a place on the September 1 Republican primary ballot.)

Congressman Keating’s office could not be reached for comment for this story.

The Ninth Congressional District includes much of the South Shore and South Coast of Massachusetts, as well as all of Cape Cod and the Islands.

Hillary Clinton won all nine U.S. House districts in Massachusetts in 2016, but she carried the Ninth Congressional District by the smallest amount over Donald Trump — 52.5 to 41.8 percent. It’s the only district in the state she got less than 55 percent of the vote in, and the only district where Trump got more than 40 percent.