The New Mexico Democrat Party on Wednesday selected state Rep. Melanie Stansbury as its candidate for the June 1 special election for the U.S. House seat vacated by former Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM), who was confirmed last month as President Joe Biden’s secretary of the interior.
Stansbury defeated state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo López in a remote runoff vote conducted by Democrat State Central Committee members after coming in second in the Democrats’ first round of voting.
In the first round, Stansbury was bested by López, 43 votes to 74 votes, but beat out several minority candidates including Acoma Pueblo member Georgene Louis and multiple Hispanic candidates.
Democrats have occupied the seat — in the First Congressional District — since 2009 and are now seeking to fill the vacancy left by Haaland, a Native American, in the “heavily Latino” district; choosing Stansbury over the several minority candidates may therefore put the race “in play” for Republicans, Axios suggested.
“The selection of state Rep. Melanie Stansbury to replace one of the nation’s first Native American female U.S. House members could put a relatively safe Democratic seat in play for a special election in the heavily Latino central New Mexico district,” the outlet reported, adding that Hispanic Democrat political leaders and activists have indicated state Democrats are “failing to recruit and develop more candidates of color in the state’s rural areas at a time when Republicans are making gains with Latinos nationwide.”
New Mexico Republican Party chair Steve Pearce has concurred the seat is winnable for Republicans, telling Breitbart News in an interview in March that, despite the district leaning Democrat, his party is “all in” on electing its candidate, and described the seat as a “pickup opportunity.”
New Mexico Republican Party leaders on Saturday chose Hispanic state Sen. Mark Moores in a virtual meeting after considering seven candidates.
Pearce issued a statement on behalf of the state GOP after Democrats announced their selection of Stansbury, torching the New Mexico Democrat as an “out of touch” progressive.
“It’s imperative that voters understand that her views are anti-New Mexico. She wants to ban fracking, supports anti-law enforcement legislation, and consistently pushes for more spending and higher taxes on our constituents,” Pearce stated. “In Washington Stansbury would vote for similar radical policies that align with the most extreme elements of the Democratic Party, and this will cause irreparable damage to our great state.”
He added, “Our economy and way of life will be threatened. Is this who New Mexicans want representing them in Washington?”
Absentee voting for the June 1 election begins in just over a month, on May 4.
Write to Ashley Oliver at [email protected].