Democrat Melanie Stansbury, a scientist who has served in the New Mexico state House since 2019, has been elected to the 1st congressional district of New Mexico in a special election. The election was called following former Rep. Deb Haaland’s (D) resignation from the House to join the Biden Administration as Secretary of the Interior. This election did not alter the balance of power in the House of Representatives, but did help widen Democrat’s hold over it from 219 to 220 seats, while Republicans hold 211 and 4 are vacant.


First Lady Jill Biden, and Second Gentlemen Doug Emhoff, both visited the state on separate occasions this month to campaign for Stansbury.

Many Democrats feared that the 2021 election would threaten deep-blue congressional districts, but Stansbury won the election with a 25 percentage point margin. The election saw a high rate of early voting turnout with The Albuquerque Journal reporting 15% of ballots in by the middle of last week. Registered Democrat voters outpaced Republican voters more than 2-to-1 in early voting polls.


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Republican candidate, state Sen. Mark Moores, used Stansbury’s support of the BREATHE Act, a bill drafted by BLM activists which supports defunding police departments in favor of offering grants to poor communities, as a means of attack. Stanbury’s success in the election shows that crime issues alone are not enough for the GOP to win in Democrat-leaning districts, especially with little financial support from the national party, as was in Moores case. Stanbury countered Moore’s attacks with evidence of her success which brought state dollars for law enforcement back to Albuquerque, and featured a retired sheriff in her advertisements.

State Democratic Party Chair Jessica Velasquez said in a statement late Tuesday that “Democrats sent a clear message during this election that we’re not taking anything for granted when it comes to electing leaders who truly represent our values,” she noted. “We know the importance of electing strong Democrats like Melanie Stansbury, and we will continue to build on that momentum as we look toward 2022.”

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