New Mexico state Rep. Melanie Stansbury will soon officially become a U.S. Representative.
Stansbury won easily on Tuesday over three other opponents on the ballot in a special election: Republican Mark Moores, Libertarian Chris Manning and independent candidate Aubrey Dunn.
The special election was held in order to replace former congresswoman Deb Halaand after she was appointed and confirmed to the position of U..S. Secretary of the Interior earlier this year.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, as of 11:46 p.m. Tuesday night, Stansbury’s votes accounted for 60 percent of all votes cast, while Moores had slightly 36 percent, Manning had one percent and Dunn had three percent.
Even though there were four candidates in the running, much of the unusually timed and expedited election cycle was largely focused on Moores and Stansbury. Both Stansbury and Moores are state legislators, Moores in the state Senate and Stansbury in the House, each serving moderate districts in Albuquerque. Two other candidates qualified as write-in candidates. At an event in Old Town Albuquerque, where Stansbury supporters gathered to watch the results, U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández rallied the crowd with chants of “¡Que viva Melanie Stansbury!”
In her victory speech, Stansbury spoke about tearing up when she saw Halaand sworn in as Secretary of Interior, signalling what Stansbury said is a movement towards progressive change.
Three candidates running in the race to fill the 1st Congressional district vacancy fielded questions on Tuesday night in the election’s first public forum. The New Mexico Black Voters Collaborative organized and moderated the forum, which took place just hours after a Minnesota jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd.
Democratic candidate and current state Representative Melanie Stansbury, Libertarian candidate Chris Manning and independent candidate and former state Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn took part in the forum. Republican candidate and current state Senator Mark Moores was notably absent from the forum. According to a press release from the Black Voters Collaborative prior to the forum, Moores originally agreed to participate but later withdrew.
Questions for the candidates mostly covered ongoing issues in the state and country and how they impact people of color. While the candidates kept a civil tone with one another, they still had different opinions on the issues.
When asked about police brutality towards people of color and the high rates of death at the hands of police, all three candidates said they were in favor of ending qualified immunity, a judicial doctrine that is often used to protect police from facing civil legal action.
Dunn said he thinks money towards police training should be a priority and that police who violate the law should be held accountable.
“I know we have a serious problem and we need to make it a priority and it’s gone for years,” Dunn said.
Manning said in addition to ending qualified immunity, he would like to see more trust from the public in the justice system.
“We also need to have faith in our system, that even those who are accused of the most egregious crimes, they get their day in court,” Manning said.
In about three weeks, registered voters in the 1st Congressional District can start casting ballots to fill the vacant seat. The rushed and non-traditional nature of this election could prove difficult for the candidates.
Complicating issues, the state is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic that emerged last year, meaning candidates may not see the normal kind of campaign rally turn-out and some will likely not hold in-person rallies at all. Of the candidates for the Albuquerque-area seat that NM Political Report spoke to, only one cited the expedited timeline as a possible challenge to their campaign. Others anticipated their biggest challenges will be getting the word out about their campaigns and raising money.
Melanie Stansbury, who currently serves as a Democratic legislator in the New Mexico House of Representatives, said the short election period may end up being her biggest challenge.
“It is a scramble to get out the vote and help educate the public to know that a special election is happening, to introduce ourselves to the broader community and make sure that people know the election is happening and when and how to vote,” Stansbury said.
Stansbury is currently serving her second term in the state Legislature, but previously worked in the White House as well as a U.S. Senate staffer.
Republican candidate Mark Moores also serves in the Legislature, as a state senator. Despite numerous scheduling attempts from NM Political Report, Moores could not be reached for an interview.
Aubrey Dunn, who is running as an independent candidate, seemed to agree that getting people out to vote would also be a challenge, but he said he thinks his biggest challenge will be fundraising.
Albuquerque State Rep. Melanie Stansbury emerged from a two-day, two-round process to become the Democratic nominee for the 1st Congressional District special election in June. Stansbury narrowly defeated State Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, also from Albuquerque, in the second round, with 103 votes from the party’s central committee members in the 1st Congressional District to Sedillo Lopez’s 97 votes. One member abstained. Sedillo Lopez had the most votes in the first round, but failed to reach 50 percent. The party then went to a runoff between the candidates with the fewest number of candidates to reach 50 percent of votes—in this case, two.
Republicans picked State Sen. Mark Moores as the party’s candidate for the upcoming special election to fill the 1st Congressional District vacancy. Moores, a Republican from Albuquerque, announced his entry into the race in mid-March. Moores owns a laboratory that, over the last year, collected samples of COVID-19 testing. The election will take place on June 1. Democrat Deb Haaland resigned from the seat earlier this month after she was confirmed to the position of Secretary of the Department of the Interior in the Joe Biden administration.
The special election to fill the now-vacant 1st Congressional District will take place on June 1. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver announced the date and said she would formally issue the special election proclamation on Thursday. The seat, which is centered in the Albuquerque area, is now vacant because Deb Haaland resigned earlier this week to become U.S. Secretary of the Interior under President Joe Biden. “Deb Haaland’s historic confirmation as the nation’s first Native American cabinet secretary is a proud moment for all New Mexicans, but it also kicks off another important election cycle of which every eligible voter in Congressional District 1 should be aware,” Toulouse Oliver said in a statement issued Wednesday. “Now that Election Day is set, I encourage anyone interested in seeking the office to familiarize themselves with the laws and procedures outlined in the Election Code.
With U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland’s confirmation as Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, her replacement in Congress will be chosen through a special election that will be held later this year. State law says the Secretary of State must declare a special election within ten days of a vacancy. The election date will be held between 77 and 91 days after the declaration. Major party candidates will be selected by the party’s central committees in the district, based on party rules. Each party will inform the Secretary of State 56 days ahead of the election who will be that party’s nominee.
Almost as soon as the news came out that President-elect Joe Biden chose Deb Haaland as his choice to head the Interior Department, attention turned to what would happen to the 1st Congressional District seat. If Haaland is confirmed to the cabinet-level position and resigns from the U.S. House, it would trigger a special election for her replacement.
Related: Report: Biden chooses Haaland for Interior Secretary
At the time of a vacancy, the Secretary of State would order a special election to be held between 77 and 91 days after the vacancy occurs. There would be no primary, instead the state central committees of the major parties would choose their nominees. If confirmed, this will be the first special election in New Mexico for a congressional seat since 1998—which was also in the 1st Congressional District, when Republican Heather Wilson defeated Democrat Phil Maloof and Green Party candidate Bob Anderson. At the time, the 1st Congressional District was held by Republicans from the time the state earned a second congressional district in 1969 until 2009, when Democrat Martin Heinrich won.
U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland secured her second term to represent New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District. The Associated Press called the race for Haaland at 8:34 p.m. with partial results from roughly 96 percent of precincts reported. Haaland was confident in her reelection campaign and said getting people out to vote was most important this year. “We did everything we could do to get voters to the polls. That was our main concern, just making sure that everybody voted and had a way to vote and understood how they could vote,” Haaland told NM Political Report after the polls closed.
In April, Brett Kokinadis announced he was switching from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party and running for the open 3rd Congressional District seat. Three month later, Kokinadis is switching which race he’s running for, and is seeking the Albuquerque-area 1st Congressional District seat held by Democrat Deb Haaland. “I know others have announced on the Republican ticket in CD3, and I’m certain more will. It’s important that we show unity within the Republican party and have strong candidates in each race to offer voters an alternative to the reckless ultra-progressive agendas,” Kokinadis said in a statement. Kokinadis is touting his ties to President Donald Trump and says he met with Trump’s deputy political director in May, while he was running for the 3rd Congressional District seat.