ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Democrat Melanie Stansbury won the New Mexico congressional election on Tuesday with a campaign closely tied to the initiatives of the Biden administration.
Stansbury won an open four-man race to fill a vacant seat previously held by Home Secretary Deb Haaland.
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Stansbury has closely linked his congressional bid to proposed and enacted Democratic legislation on pandemic relief, infrastructure spending and interventions to slow climate change. His victory bolsters the Democratic majority in Congress ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
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She took the stage in Albuquerque with both arms raised high, to celebrate her victory. Thanking supporters and volunteers, she said the courage and determination that fueled her campaign came from her own mother, who worked in a denim factory and later as a crane mechanic.
“When the time demands it, when our families and communities demand it, when our country demands it, we step up and find the solutions for communities and we find out,” said Stansbury. “And that’s exactly what we’ve done in this campaign and that’s why I’m standing in front of you tonight.”
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Stansbury’s victory preserves an all-female House delegation for the State. She defeated Republican Senator Mark Moores’ third term to take an Albuquerque-based seat held by Democrats since 2009.
Libertarian candidate Chris Manning and independent Aubrey Dunn Jr. have campaigned unsuccessfully to represent the 1st Congressional District, which includes Albuquerque, rural Torrance County, and other outlying areas that include the indigenous community of Sandia Pueblo.
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Stansbury reiterated his push for a $ 15 minimum wage, economic and racial equality and police reforms. She said there was a lot of work to be done and she wanted to give everyone a place around the table as the country and its infrastructure rebuilt.
In the middle of the vote on election day, she highlighted the need for a major round of federal infrastructure spending.
“This is especially important for New Mexico because it includes funding for things like broadband and clean energy,” Stansbury said.
Voters in the district have strongly favored Democratic candidates in recent years, avoiding former President Donald Trump with a 23 percentage point gap in 2020 and re-electing Haaland by a 16 percentage point margin as voter turnout reached a record high.
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Tuesday’s election is one of a handful of races to fill congressional vacancies ahead of the 2022 midterm election. Democrats held a 219-211 majority in Congress ahead of Tuesday’s vote in New Mexico .
Moores tried unsuccessfully to tip the seat under Republican control by highlighting concerns about crime in Albuquerque and portraying his Democratic opponent as a radical progressive.
Sean Patrick Maloney, chairman of the Congressional Democratic campaign committee, said enthusiasm was on the rise among Democrats and that Stansbury’s victory helped ensure that work in Washington continued on the Democratic agenda.
The seat of New Mexico’s 1st District has always been a stepping stone to higher office for Republican and Democratic politicians, including now-deceased Home Secretary Manuel Lujan Jr., former Secretary of the United Nations. US Air Force Heather Wilson, US Senator Martin Heinrich and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.
The district relies heavily on federal military and research funding as it is home to Kirtland Air Force Base and Sandia National Laboratories.
Trump in 2020 fell flat with voters in the Albuquerque area after sending federal agents to bolster local law enforcement efforts.
Last year, Republicans toppled the state’s sprawling 2nd Congressional District in southern New Mexico as Alamogordo’s Yvonne Herrell ousted incumbent U.S. Representative Xochitl Torres Small.
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