U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi appeared at Democratic candidate Deb Haaland’s campaign office Tuesday to support the candidate and speak about reauthorizing the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). “As we pass laws about domestic violence and violence against women, we must recognize the specific nature of the challenge in Indian Country,” Pelosi told the room of campaign volunteers. Haaland is the Democratic nominee for the 1st Congressional District, a position currently held by U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Haaland will face Republican Janice Arnold-Jones and Libertarian Lloyd Princeton in the November general election. Pelosi praised Haaland and her campaign, but added that they are sure to see negative attacks from Republicans.
Three Democratic candidates in New Mexico received endorsements from a high-profile source: former President Barack Obama. Obama announced his nationwide endorsements on Twitter Wednesday, with less than 100 days until election day. Obama endorsed 1st Congressional District candidate Deb Haaland, state House District 23 incumbent Daymon Ely and House District 30 candidate Natalie Figueroa. Haaland would be the first Native American woman elected to Congress, and her campaign says she asked for Obama’s endorsement. Haaland said she was “proud to have the support of my old boss.” Haaland was Obama’s Native American Vote Director in New Mexico in 2012.
Albuquerque’s Melanie Stansbury decided this was the year to run for office. She filed as a candidate for state representative in Albuquerque, in House District 28 in the Northeast Heights. Republicans have held the seat for over a decade but the Democrat is running an energetic campaign and raising thousands of dollars in donations. Stansbury followed her sister’s lead, a county judge who almost a decade ago went through the Emerge New Mexico program, which trains Democratic woman to run for office. Stansbury joked that she and her sister are the only “Emerge sisters to actually be real sisters in New Mexico.”
New Mexico Democrats outstripped their Republican counterparts in congressional fundraising and have at least five times the amount of cash on hand in the races for two open seats. That’s according to campaign finance reports filed to the Federal Election Commission earlier this week. The reports included money raised from April 1 to June 30 which included the primary election. This year’s elections in New Mexico feature two open-seat races, as their incumbents instead are facing off in this year’s gubernatorial election. In the 1st Congressional District, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham is leaving the seat after three terms. She won the Democratic primary for governor this June.
For New Mexico Democrats, the celebration and rallying didn’t stop after he primaries on Tuesday night. About 75 party officials, candidates and their supporters crammed into a back room of an iconic Albuquerque restaurant Wednesday morning to celebrate primary wins from late the night before. Democratic primary winners Deb Haaland and U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham energized the crowd at Barelas Coffee House with talks about winning the general election in November. “We have the most incredible Democrats,” Lujan Grisham said. “I have to say this is one of the strongest tickets I’ve ever seen.”
Haaland, who is the Democratic candidate for the congressional seat Lujan Grisham currently holds, encouraged Democrats to take any criticism from Republicans with a grain of salt.
“You know all of this doesn’t have to be so serious, when we’re getting hit with this barrage of horrible things from the Republicans,” Haaland told the crowd.
Indian Country News is a weekly note from High Country News, as we continue to broaden our coverage of tribal affairs across the West. Patricia Roybal Caballero was a freshman lawmaker in New Mexico’s House of Representatives when she walked into a popular Santa Fe restaurant in 2013 for a meeting with some of her colleagues. Roybal Caballero, a community and economic developer of Piro-Manso-Tiwa ancestry, was by then used to dealing with negative perceptions about her race, but what happened next astounded her. “Before I had a chance to ask for a table, the hostess said, ‘I am sorry, but we’re not taking applications right now,’” Roybal Caballero told me recently. This story originally appeared at High Country News and is reprinted with permission.
Delegates for the Democratic Party of New Mexico chose their preferred candidates for statewide and federal races Saturday afternoon at the state pre-primary convention. But before candidates finished their stump speeches, a brief protest and an alliance between two gubernatorial candidates caused some excitement. The Democratic convention showed higher numbers of both the number of candidates and convention attendees than the recent Republican and Libertarian state parties. Six state and federal candidates emerged from contested races as party favorites for the Democratic primary election in June. While he denied rumors that he was dropping out, gubernatorial candidate Peter DeBenedittis used his speech to encourage delegates to cast votes for another candidate in the race, Jeff Apodaca.
Many Albuquerque-area political figures are rumored to be gearing up for a congressional campaign after New Mexico Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham announced she plans to leave the seat and run for Governor. There are still no definitive announcements or declared candidates, but the handful of people NM Political Report spoke to this week gave similar answers—that they have been encouraged to run and are giving it serious consideration. Some said they don’t want to run for family reasons, in particular because of the amount of travel that comes with the job. The state’s congressional members often travel back and forth from Washington D.C. and New Mexico. U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich’s family, for example, lived in Albuquerque while he served in the U.S. House before Lujan Grisham.
On Thanksgiving, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich called on President Barack Obama to reroute the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline and condemned the response by police to protests. Native Americans and others have protested pipeline over recent weeks over a fear that it would imperil the Standing Rock Sioux Nation’s only water source. The pipeline’s path was already moved once, from near Bismarck. Part of the reason was the risk to the city’s water supply. Update: Heinrich concerned over violence against Standing Rock protesters
“Today is Thanksgiving and I cannot help but reflect on our history in these United States and how often it has not lived up to the rosy picture of Pilgrims and Indians sharing a meal in friendly company that I saw in textbooks as a child,” Heinrich said in a statement.
If you watched the roll call at each the recent Democratic and Republican National Conventions waiting for New Mexico to come up, you probably noticed each state bragging about certain attributes of their state before they announced the vote totals. For example, Idaho’s Republicans bragged about the “world-famous potatoes” that are grown there. Both Democratic and Republican delegations in Minnesota mentioned Prince. New Mexico’s delegation was not immune to the braggadocio that comes with wearing silly hats and waving signs promoting your party’s preferred candidate at these conventions. At the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last week, Gov. Susana Martinez took the mic to talk about New Mexico.