Democrats hold House seat in special election

Stansbury prevailed easily — by nearly a two-to-one margin — in a district run by Democrats for more than a dozen years. 

Melanie Stansbury/Facebook

For the first time in nearly a quarter-century, New Mexico held a special congressional election Tuesday.

The vacancy in the state’s First Congressional District occurred when radical Rep. Deb Haaland became secretary of the Interior with the Biden administration.

Republican Mark Moores, a state senator, faced Democrat Melanie Stansbury, an Obama administration alumnus and current state representative.

Mark Moores/New Mexico Senate

Moores focused his campaign on Albuquerque’s rising violent crime rate, drug issues, and Stansbury‘s support for various anti-police bills. He also advocated for New Mexico’s oil and gas industry, and is perturbed by teachers unions shutting kids out of school.

The final pre-election email from Moores called Stansbury “a radical progressive just like AOC — except with an Ivy League degree.”

Stansbury attacked Moores for opposing the American Rescue Plan while taking PPP loans for his business. She also focused on climate change, infrastructure, and increasing the number of New Mexico students who receive free lunch.

While Stansbury boasted of her support for the Biden agenda and received the president’s endorsement, Moores drew support from the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association, NRA, and Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador.

Stansbury prevailed easily — by nearly a two-to-one margin — in a district run by Democrats for more than a dozen years. The NRCC spent nothing on the race.

While the Land of Enchantment trended a bit more Republican in 2020 than recent years — with the GOP’s U.S. Senate nominee receiving over 45%, the highest in New Mexico in almost 20 years — polls never had this race close.

The most recent presidential contest where the majority voted for a Republican was in 2004 for George W. Bush. Voters in the First District chose President Joe Biden over Donald Trump by 23 points and easily re-elected Haaland a few months ago.

Still, there are concerns for Democrats.

The Biden administration, ironically with assistance from Haaland, is transitioning away from the oil industry. The president’s day-one order to end oil and gas permits and extraction on federal lands is taking a toll on New Mexico’s long-term fiscal health. Kowtowing to eco-extremists could cost the state over 60,000 jobs in the next year. Even Native American groups like the Ute Tribe, a community that relies on fossil-fuel extraction, issued a public statement opposing the action. About 40% of New Mexico’s entire statewide revenue comes from its oil and gas extraction.

Culturally, half of the state’s residents are Latino, and in 2020, this group moved toward Republicans nationwide, especially in places like California, Florida, Texas and even New Mexico, where Republican Yvette Herrell upended incumbent Democrat Xochitl Torres by seven points.

Arizona, California and the Lone Star State get the attention, but New Mexico is also situated on the southern border. And while the humanitarian crisis created and perpetuated by Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris is relevant, polls also show Latinos place the economy, education and security higher than immigration.

New Mexico remains a blue state, but trends on certain issues are worth following.