Melanie Stansbury, a Democrat, won a landslide victory in a special election for the New Mexico House of Representatives on Tuesday, claiming the seat previously held by Home Secretary Deb Haaland and a Republican attempt to run a referendum on rising crime in Albuquerque make, easily rejected -based district.
Late Tuesday evening, a state representative, Ms. Stansbury, had received 62 percent of the vote, while her Republican rival, Mark Moores, had won 34 percent.
Her dominant performance was an early vote of confidence in the Democrat-controlled White House and Congress in a heavily Hispanic district and could allay some of the party’s concerns over its prospect for the 2022 midterm election.
Ms. Stansbury, an environmental policy advisor to Congress and the White House, emphasized economic fairness, the urgency of fighting climate change and the importance of maintaining a four-seat Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.
Mr. Moores, a state senator, ran almost entirely on crime and related issues. He attacked Ms. Stansbury for supporting a bill in Congress that would withdraw money from the police force, noting that Albuquerque had twice the number of murders this year than it did in 2020.
Mrs Stansbury’s victory shows that crime alone is not enough for Republicans to survive in democratic counties, at least when their candidates receive little financial support from the national party, as was the case with Mr Moores.
Special elections in the first year after a new president are elected can often bring dire news to the party that controls the White House. And with few such competitions taking place on even remotely competitive terrain that year, the Democrats took aggressive action to make sure they weren’t caught by surprise in New Mexico.
Ms. Stansbury had a tremendous financial advantage while benefiting from the district’s democratic orientation, the First Congressional, which President Biden carried 23 percentage points last year.
She also went on to refute Mr. Moore’s line of attack by broadcasting a commercial featuring a retired deputy sheriff and trumpeting her work in the legislature by bringing government dollars back to Albuquerque for law enforcement.
The Washington-based Republicans who found the heavily urban seat inaccessible did little to help Mr. Moore. Conversely, National Democrats inundated Ms. Stansbury with aid.
Fearful of the political echo of a loss or narrow victory in a race for law and order, the Washington Democrats dispatched their thin House majority, Jill Biden, first lady, and Doug Emhoff, second gentleman, to meet with Ms. Stansbury in Albuquerque.
House Democrats and their allies in the country’s capital also showered their New Mexico candidate with an injection of cash in the final weeks of the race that enabled her to overpower Mr. Moores on television.
Ms. Stansbury raised nearly $ 1.2 million during the last reporting period, April 1 through May 12, while Mr. Moores raised only $ 344,000 during the same period.
Mr Moores made little attempt to hide his frustration at the lack of national aid, but Republicans in Congress said it would have been a waste of resources to spend sizable money in a district held by a Democrat since 2009.
By rejecting the race, however, the Republicans left an opportunity to test how politically potent the crime issue could prove in next year’s midterm elections. With violence dominating daily headlines in the district, Mr. Moores sought to capitalize on Ms. Stansbury’s support for a little-known law that would, among other things, cut funding for local police departments.
She declined to say that she regretted supporting the law, but she largely avoided discussing the stump issue even when she aired the ad emphasizing her efforts to fund law enforcement.
After the Democrats in the House of Representatives were completely excluded from the runoff election in a special election for the House of Representatives in Texas that was overturned by the Republicans, the New Mexico results were welcomed by the party.
New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, chairman of the Caucus campaign team, traveled to Albuquerque on Tuesday to attend the celebrations and claim a share in Ms. Haaland’s retention of the seat.
“New Mexico voters chose a leader with the courage and determination to produce results and rejected the tired Republican tactics of lying and scaremongering,” Maloney said after Ms. Stansbury’s victory.