Tuesday night’s special election sends Representative-elect Melanie Stansbury to Congress and continues New Mexico’s 12-year trend of a Democratically-represented 1st Congressional District.
Though voter turnout was sparse, it was “what we normally have in an off-cycle election,” Stansbury said Tuesday night. She said turnout was “similar to what we have in a mayoral [election].”
Unofficial election results from the Secretary of State’s office indicate that, of the 1st Congressional District’s 458,653 registered voters, 131,651 ballots were cast statewide in the special election. That equates to 28.7% of registered voters.
Between Torrance, Bernalillo, and Santa Fe counties, a total of 131,448 votes were recorded on and leading up to June 1, with additional votes in Valencia and Sandoval counties. The 1st Congressional District includes parts of all of these counties, with the bulk of its population in the Albuquerque area.
Stansbury garnered 79,209 votes, or 60% of the total votes cast. Republican candidate Mark Moores earned 46,977 votes, or 36% of the total votes cast.
Independent candidate Aubrey Dunn pulled in 3,524 votes, or 3% of total votes, with Libertarian candidate Christopher Manning collecting 1,736 votes, representing 1% of voters.
There were four political parties represented on the ballot in Tuesday’s election, but the republican and democratic candidates were early frontrunners.
In the CD1 special election, Torrance and Santa Fe counties expressed more support for Moores than Stansbury, with Moores receiving 54% and 55% of the votes in each respective county, but Stansbury’s lead of more than 27% in Bernalillo County sealed the deal.
With rural areas generally tending to vote red, what does a Democratic win mean for concerns in and around Edgewood?
According to Mountainair Mayor Peter Nieto—who also serves as co-chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico’s Rural Caucus—one of the biggest concerns of non-urban communities is that, “rural problems sometimes get ignored by Democratic leadership.”
This concern prompted Nieto to ask Stansbury during a Zoom meeting last month for a “liaison to rural communities” within her office should she win the election, he said, adding that her response was, “You’ve got it.”
This position, according to Nieto, would involve visits to rural communities a couple days out of the year to see what the issues are and to then take those issues to legislators.
Evelyn Vinogradov, the chair ward of the DPNM Rural Caucus, said she and Nieto have been “working hard together to have the Rural Caucus voice heard out here.”
Vinogradov said that, though Democrats have the majority, they’re aware that there is a large number of Republicans in the area, and that they, for the most part, are not “radical, right wing,” but conservative.
She said that this should make it easier—through caucuses, county heads, and mayors—to establish bipartisan dialogue and ensure the needs of the community are met.
The biggest issues facing rural communities in New Mexico are water, as always, and broadband, Nieto said.
He said he discussed those issues with Stansbury during her campaign, adding that the big worry is that a “major corporation would come in, … set up shop, use the water up, and then leave.” In a Zoom meeting with Nieto, Stansbury said she recognizes how valuable water is in the high desert, and that she’d “make sure that water permitting [would] reflect climate change.”
She also discussed the importance of access to broadband internet, referring to it as a “basic necessity.”
She said that eventually satellite broadband would be the most efficient way to get internet access to rural communities, but that in the meantime, she’d “leverage every possible creative idea” to get broadband into the ground.