New Mexico special election is ‘big first test’ for Democrats

As the campaign to fill the New Mexico congressional seat vacated by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland enters its final days, Democratic candidate Melanie Stansbury has outraised her leading opponent by more than twice over. 

Stansbury raised more than $1.3 million as of May 12, and more than $152,000 since. On May 12, she had almost $525,000 on hand. The largest share of her warchest came from large individual contributions, which have continued to roll in just days before election day. 

PACs contributed a combined total of nearly $232,000, around 17 percent of her total fundraising. Elect Democratic Women, a PAC founded by Democratic women in the House, is among Stansbury’s donors, giving $15,000 since she launched her primary campaign for the seat earlier this year.

In the same timeframe, Democratic fundraising powerhouse EMILY’s List gave $11,500, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) PAC to the Future chipped in $10,000. Stansbury, who was elected to New Mexico’s House in 2018, also picked up endorsements from leading Democratic lawmakers including Haaland, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and New Mexico Sens. Ben Ray Lujan (D) and Martin Heinrich (D).

Stansbury defeated a more progressive opponent, State Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, in a runoff vote during the party nominating convention that selected the general election candidates. Still, Stansbury’s campaign received contributions and endorsements from both the Progressive Turnout Project and the Congressional Progressive Caucus after she pledged to support a $15 minimum wage and “Medicare for All.” 

State Sen. Mark Moores, the GOP’s candidate, has brought in just over $595,000, including a loan of $200,000 from Moores himself. As of May 12, he had a little less than $126,000 on hand. 

Moores’ campaign hasn’t drawn the same amount of national attention Stansbury’s has. But some observers say that the Republican, who played football for the University of New Mexico, has more name recognition in the state. Only 5 percent of Moores’ fundraising total came from out-of-state donors, whereas out-of-state contributions make up around 38 percent of Stansbury’s total, according to RollCall. The National Republican Congressional Committee donated $5,000 to Moores in April, following his primary nomination. The National Rifle Association contributed $1,000.  

Democrats have a distinct advantage in the district, which swung for President Joe Biden by a 23-point margin in November. Still, they’re not taking any chances. They say that this election is a “must-win” for the party, which controls a slim majority in the House. Earlier this year, Democrats were shut-out of a Texas special election to fill a seat vacated by Ron Wright, who died after contracting COVID-19. 

A May 16 fundraising email from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) warned Democrats that “the race is tightening.” 

“This is the first big test for House Democrats in 2021. We cannot let Republicans flip this seat,” the email read. “If you are able, will you rush a donation right now to support Melanie’s campaign and protect our 6-seat House majority?” 

The district, which encompasses part of Albuquerque, was solidly Republican “for decades,” one pollster told the Sante Fe New Mexican, before Heinrich swung the seat from red to blue in 2008. After he launched his Senate campaign, Grisham succeeded him. 

Moores has centered his campaign around appeals to the district’s historical conservatism, telling the New Mexican, “We’re going to get it back.” 
Though they lead the race in terms of fundraising, Moores and Stansbury won’t be alone on the special election ballot. Aubrey Dunn, who held statewide office from 2014 to 2018, has raised just shy of $96,000 and loaned his campaign $75,000. Chris Manning is also vying for the seat as a libertarian, and has raised less than $5,000.

Read Full Article >>>