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.
Note: All week we will be counting down the top ten stories of 2018, as voted on by NM Political Report staffers. See them all here as they come in! If there was a competition for the New Mexican with the most mentions in national news stories, Debra Haaland would be a top contender. Haaland’s win received a lot of attention as she is the first Native American woman to represent New Mexico in Congress and one of the first two in the U.S.
Haaland came into the race as no stranger to New Mexico politics. A former candidate for lieutenant governor, Haaland was elected to by the Democratic Party of New Mexico to serve as the party’s chairwoman in 2015. Her competition that year was Richard Ellenberg, who succeeded her in that position, but was later ousted after his handling of accusations of sexual harassment within the party.
While Democrats led the way in fundraising in the latest quarter, federal campaign finance reports filed Monday show, one candidate considerably outraised the rest. NM Political Report first reported that Xochitl Torres Small, a Democrat seeking the 2nd Congressional District seat, raised over $1.9 million yesterday. Her fundraising total was $650,000 more than all three candidates for U.S. Senate combined raised in that same time period. Torres Small spent over $1.3 million and finished with $1.1 million cash on hand for the final few weeks of the race. Her opponent, Republican State Rep. Yvette Herrell, raised $564,000 and spent $245,000, leaving her with $419,000 cash on hand for the final stretch.
Election Day is six weeks away and while the Democratic candidate is leading the race for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, neither of the other two candidates is giving up. In fact, both Republican candidate Janice Arnold-Jones and Libertarian candidate Lloyd Princeton are confident they can beat Democrat Deb Haaland. Arnold-Jones isn’t worried that a recent poll shows she is behind by eight points, and says voters have told her they often don’t participate in polls or answer questions honestly. “People I talk to don’t support the agenda that’s being pushed [by Democrats],” Arnold-Jones said. “They don’t support abolishing ICE, they don’t support doing away with police.”
Princeton, who recently earned the support of only three percent of likely voters in a poll, is optimistic he’ll gain more supporters before Election Day.