ALBUQUERQUE — Only a few months ago, Melanie Stansbury was just another face at the state Capitol.

Now, she’s headed to the halls of Congress.

Stansbury, a two-term state representative who burst into the political scene in 2018 when she scored a stunning upset and unseated a longtime Republican incumbent, sailed to victory in Tuesday’s special election for the 1st Congressional District.

“First thing I want to say to you all is, it’s a good day to be a New Mexican,” the Albuquerque Democrat told a cheering crowd of supporters at the Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town.

“When we launched this campaign ... I could not have imagined the journey that we would be on together, but I know that when the moment demands, you have to step up with your grit and determination and get the job done,” she said.

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Melanie Stansbury is applauded by her staff as results start to come in during a post-election gathering Tuesday at the Hotel Albuquerque.

It was obvious Stansbury had gotten the job done not long after the polls closed. She took an early 30 percentage point lead over her nearest competitor, Republican state Sen. Mark Moores, the Secretary of State’s Office reported on its website.

By late Tuesday, with more than 130,000 votes counted, she maintained a wide lead, with 60 percent of votes compared to Moores’ 36 percent.

Stansbury and Moores, as well as Libertarian Chris Manning and Aubrey Dunn, a former Republican and state land commissioner who ran as an independent, were vying to replace Deb Haaland, who vacated the seat to become secretary of the Interior Department under President Joe Biden.

There were also two independent write-in candidates, Laura Olivas and Robert Ornelas.

Dunn had 3 percent of the votes late Friday and Manning 1 percent.

The Democratic National Committee lauded Stansbury’s win in a statement Tuesday evening.

“This victory should serve as a cautionary tale to Republicans across the country,” DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison said in the statement. “Standing in the way of delivering for the American people is not what voters are looking for. New Mexicans proved that tonight.”

While the district was once a Republican stronghold, Democrats have held the seat since 2009. The district includes most of Bernalillo County, all of Torrance County and parts of Sandoval, Santa Fe and Valencia counties.

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Mark Moores and his wife, Lisa, watch for election results at the Republican headquarters in Albuquerque.

Before the polls closed at 7 p.m., Moores said he was proud of his campaign.

“We worked our tail off,” said Moores, who was joined by his wife, Lisa, at the headquarters of the Republican Party of New Mexico. “We ran a really tough, strong campaign, and I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished.”

Asked whether he had done enough to win, Moores said Democrats fought vigorously to prevent him from victory.

“When you’re facing the president, the vice president, the speaker of the House, two sitting U.S. senators and the governor spending millions of dollars to protect their control on power … it shows you how critically scared they were of this race that they had to send in every single resource from Washington, D.C., to help protect their national agenda,” he said, referring to endorsements or help on the campaign trail that Stansbury received from state and national Democratic Party leaders.

Moores, a three-term state senator, made tackling crime — and portraying his opponent as a “radical” candidate who supported a proposal known as the BREATHE Act, which he cautioned would “defund police and prisons and all punishment paradigms” — a major theme of his campaign.

“I think the politicians, including Melanie Stansbury and the people who have been running New Mexico, have ignored how bad the crime is in this state, and their failure to address it is putting New Mexico in jeopardy,” he said. “We cannot have economic development, we cannot have good schools, we cannot have the New Mexico we want unless they seriously take care of this crime, and they don’t even seem to want to address it or acknowledge it’s happening.”

U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told Stansbury’s supporters the country was watching the special election “to see if Republican attacks work.”

“They threw their kitchen sink at Melanie Stansbury, and you know what we learned?” he asked. “We learned she could take a punch. We learned she is tough. We learned she could take the heat and keep fighting for you and your family. ... The message tonight is that Democrats deliver results and beat Republicans who spread lies and fear.”

State House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, who appeared at the election night watch party virtually, said “the whole country’s eyes” were on New Mexico on Tuesday.

“We’re also seeing tonight with these big, big numbers for Melanie that President Biden and his agenda, which she ran with, remain popular,” he said. “It’s a great sign for what’s yet to come.”

In an interview with reporters, Stansbury said the race had become a barometer for what may happen in the 2022 election cycle.

“So, you know, the importance not only of winning but the margin and how it all played out, and I couldn’t be prouder of the work that we accomplished,” she said.

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State Rep. Roger Montoya cheers at a post-election celebration.

Stansbury, who planned to celebrate Tuesday night and possibly “sleep in a little bit” Wednesday, didn’t know exactly when she would take office but figured it would be within weeks.

“It’s very likely that it’ll be on Monday [June 14] because that’s the first day that they come back in session,” she said.

While Stansbury and the other candidates ran different ground games, some voters who waited until Tuesday to cast their ballots were more focused on party affiliation than crime or other issues facing the district in deciding which candidate to support.

Laura Miller, an Albuquerque native who is a retired nurse, said she voted for Moores primarily because he’s a Republican, though she believes he’s a strong candidate who would help rein in Democrats in Washington.

“I have grandchildren, and the debts that they’re going to incur is phenomenal, and it doesn’t seem to matter,” she said after casting her ballot at Sandia High School in the city’s more affluent Northeast Heights.

“I apologized already to my children and grandchildren,” she added. “I said, ‘We had no choice in this. This is pathetic.’ ”

Miller said voter turnout in a district where Democrats make up 47 percent of the more than 458,000 registered voters — compared to 28 percent for Republicans — would be key to Moores’ victory.

“When I talk amongst our Republicans, it’s like enough is enough is enough,” she said. “But having said that, of course, we know that New Mexico is a Democratic state, so I guess there’s only so much we can do.”

Ron Harrison, 53, a lifelong Democrat who has lived in Albuquerque for 12 years, said he didn’t know much about Stansbury but voted for her because control of the U.S. House of Representatives is at stake.

“The balance of who is in office now is very, very important, so I wanted to come out to vote just so things stay on the right track,” he said, adding he didn’t consider any other candidate.

“I’m sure they’re fine people, but, you know, I’ve always voted for Democrats,” said Harrison, a San Francisco native. “I feel like they’re just more in touch with what’s happening in society and trying to help everybody.”

In Albuquerque’s South Valley, 63-year-old Tina Dixon said she voted for Moores because they share the same values.

“I’m a Christian and I follow Christian values, so I tend to go with the Republicans for that reason,” she said.

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

(46) comments

Cleve Spence

Great News! The other good news we want have another Jim Crow republican promoting 'the big lie,' and 6-Jan was just a picnic in the park!

Carolyn DM

Bravo!! For months the Radical Republicans have been whining the loudest, yet have another low-voter turnout!! Congratulations to them! Mark Moores is merely the male, super-sized version of Yvette Harrel, right down to the bad hair and the nasty campaign lies. We don't need another one of those in our state!

Joseph Tafoya

I guess the race to the bottom is still on?

Prince Michael Jauregui

Congratulations Mr. Tafoya, Today you win The Internet.

Margaret Eyler

I think we won. Sigh.

Dottie Butler

Yvette Herrell now becomes the next target for defeat in 2022.

The better-than-expected margin of victory for Stansbury means that Trumpers everywhere are targets for defeat in 2022 and 2024.

America rejects their attempts to impose fascism on us all.

Mike Johnson

Yes, NM elected what NM has most always elected over the years. No surprise here and thus solidly cemented in last place in the US.

John Cook

We got to last place with conservative men, both D and R, in charge up to the last 10 years. Now we have smart women in charge and we are, at last, making progress. It is also possible, Dr. Johnson, that 60.5% of folks in CD1 have a good idea of who will best represent them.

Mike Johnson

"...60.5% of folks in CD1 have a good idea of who will best represent them." Correction to your misleading stat, 60.5% of the people who voted, which was about 30% of the voters. Very low turnout, for good reason, look at the candidates, typical NM True......

John Cook

Gee, you always have an excuse for why your side gets drubbed. Those who show up and vote, win. If the conservative values of supporting the strong against the weak; the clever against the not-so-clever; and white supremacy were winning values then people would show up and vote for them. Happily, that day is past.

Prince Michael Jauregui

"Very low turnout, for good reason..."

Closet Fascism or Closet Communism? Ah, "American" Politics.

Mike Johnson

Mr. Cook, you persist in thinking NM reflects the nation, luckily, in so many ways, it does NOT. After the 2020 elections, conservatives Governors outnumber liberal ones by more than 27-23, likewise conservatives control 31 to 19 of the state senates, and 28 to 20 of the state house chambers, two tied. I think conservatives are doing quite well, you should stop listening to MSNBC, CNN, and our Governor all the time......expand your thinking and data sources beyond your partisan biases.

John Cook

This special election was billed as one which would show which party's voters were most engaged. In 2020 Deb Haaland got 58% of the vote and her largely unknown opponent got 42%. In this election Congresswoman-elect Stansbury got 60.5% and her high-profile opponent got 35.5%. The Democrats appear to be ready for the mid-terms.

Russell Scanlon

The last sentence says it all for me. . . and not in a good way.

The US is not and never has been a “Christian nation”. Do a little research on the Enlightenment. Read the words of Thomas Jefferson. Why would our founders be so emphatic about the separation of church and state?

Of course, when it’s convenient one can always try to change history.

Margaret Eyler

....like, changing history by tearing down any (all) offensive statues and completely erasing it?

You quoted “Christian Nation” like it was in the article, but it wasn’t and that’s not what she said.

David Gunter

Tearing down statues does not change one aspect of history, only the bigotry of history's losers who choose to honor the wrong aspects of history.

Margaret Eyler

It's bigoted to think that certain humans are incapable of looking at a statue and understanding its image might represent right OR wrongdoings.

Prince Michael Jauregui

Mr. Scanlon, for someone who claims to be a lifelong "Educator" - shame on you. First, I'll establish Truth, and work from there: 95% of America's Founding Father's were practicing Christians and/or Clergymen. Of course, Franklin and Jefferson considered themselves Deists. Still, without question, this nation was founded on Judeo-Christian Precepts and Principles.

Nonetheless, you've brought-out the tired and well-worn mantra of EVERY Atheist and Radical alike: "The Separation of Church and State". Firstly, that over-wrought phrase can be found in no official U.S. Document. Nary, a one. Rather, it was lifted from "The Jefferson Letters" - a collection of PRIVATE correspondence by Thomas Jefferson.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of Religion, OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF".

"Men will ultimately governed by God or by tyrants. Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to GOD." - Benjamin Franklin.

"I See Fed People. Piles, of Fed People" -Prince Michael of The House of David

Michael Kiley

the Rio Grande canal valley has spoken, and if you look, see the echo in today's New York Times. Front page. Deb Haaland also on the NYT front page. Now. as for apologies to our grandchildren. Informed voters know this: Bill Clinton had SURP;US budgets and left office with his country on track to pay off the ENTIRE DEBT.in 2010. Bush and Trump had deficit budgets throughout, due to the made up Iraq war and TWO Bush tax cuts for the rich, and Trump followed with a third tax cut for the rich and a massive deficit. So, apologies? Apologize this.

Margaret Eyler

Bill Clinton got lucky with booming markets and economy that brought in more money than anyone expected.

John Cook

Bill Clinton raised taxes on the rich and the economy boomed while he created a budget surplus. Let's try what works, again.

Margaret Eyler

If I hear "tax the rich" one more time.....sigh.

Lupe Molina

Rich, on average, pay lower tax rates than poor. Thats wrong. Its simple.

Lee Vigil

These conversations are so polarized, folks citing facts that fit their world view and overlooking others. Clinton raised some taxes but also cut some. One problematic cut is the lowering of the capital gains tax rate - on the order of 20% back in the 1990s. We're still talking about how unfair that tax benefit was -- ensuring that Madoff's secretary is subject to a higher tax rate than her billionaire employer. That was Clinton.

Clinton got lucky? Maybe, but he was able to sustain one of the longest growth rates in American economic history. That doesn't come from luck, but from strategy and sound policy. For contrast, I would counter that GW Bush was also quite lucky to inherit country in the fiscal health that he did. D*mn lucky. Yet he squandered it. His tenure was an unimaginable failure.

It's pretty hard to argue with what GW Bush and Trump did to deficits -- penalized wage earners and benefitted the self-employed -- income typically associated with high income ... and so easy to shelter, legally and illegally.

Not all tax cuts or spending proposals are the same. The Bush and Trump tax cuts don't have much of a feedback loop. At their core, they're gifts to the wealthy. We have enough evidence and enough time behind these tax cuts to know that they don't produce jobs -- more likely a new yacht for the proprietor. By repeating the opposite shows, quite embarrassingly, how naive and manipulated people are. Folks seem immune to facts and reality, driven by differences and disdain for one another.

On the other hand, spending on infrastructure create jobs and feedback loops. In the form of spending, more jobs, more spending, revenue for governments to provide more services to the public. Repeat.

It's quite humorous to hear how concerned Republicans are about deficits. Sorry, but Republicans have lost all credibility on the subject. They've lost credibility on many, many subjects. Democracy readily comes to mind. These folks have been clamoring for fascism for years and can't recognize it when it's at their door. I wonder how many agreed with Michael Flynn's comments calling for a military coup. Voting rights? When Republicans lose, they don't change their policies to appeal to more voters, they change the rules so that they can win and deliver to the same voters.

Gerald Joyce

Either your comment shows an ignorance of the US tax system or your espousing the Demokrat philosophy. We have a progressive tax system, one where there are percentage brackets based on your earned income. Therefore, for example, the first $50k is taxed at 10%, the next $30K at 12%, up to the limit. Ergo, the tax cut affected the lower earners proportionally more than the "rich". Trump and Congress also increased the personal exemption, limited the real estate interest and state tax deductions which did not favor the "rich". Trump's IRS took in more tax money than ever in history, look it up while you sip your cool ade.But don't be confused with facts or logic. The deficit actually doubled under Obama. Biden just proposed a $6T budget that'll help middle income tax payers . Oh ,that's right, he will only tax earners with $400K a year to finance it. Sounds like it's the new math. BTW, New Mexico would elect a donkey if it ran as a Democrat. Oops, that's redundant.

Lee Vigil

Amusing, but Obama's deficits were GW Bush's deficits. Remember the economy Obama inherited and the timeline while you enjoy your kool aid.

John Cook

Christian values? I don't recall Jesus speaking against abortion or same sex marriage. I do recall Him speaking often about helping the poor. I recall him dining with the despised and objecting to stoning a wayward woman. Christian values? Not in today's Republican party.

Daniel Valdez

Democrats have no morals whatsoever. NM deserves exactly what it elects. Santa Fe will soon look like a combination of Juarez and Portland.

Kirk Holmes

[thumbup]

rodney carswell

so says the party of the Big Lie, led by the most immoral, hateful con-man in modern political history. If you couldn't see that, right in front of your face, there is no hope for your "powers of judgement".

Margaret Eyler

Who, the Democrats at Dahctah Fouchie?

Lee Vigil

[thumbup] Truth

Russell Scanlon

Have you actually ever been to Portland? Don’t believe everything you think or the constant amplified drivel of FOX news.

Margaret Eyler

In Portland, more than 1 in 17 people will be a victim of a crime. Homicides last year highest in 27 years. Homeless camps along highways....

Margaret Eyler

👍

Prince Michael Jauregui

Too late?

Jim Klukkert

Great Daniel Valdez: affordable Margaritas and awesome baked goods!

Michael Kiley

Agreed. "Religion" is the very last refuge for scoundrels. And as for science, in the US today, two million natural abortions (some called "miscarriages") equal the number of live births, both two million. Therapeutic abortions number only 16,000 in the second trimester and essentially none in the third. A vicious, unethical, failed use by the GOP, desperate for 50% of the votes when it helps only 1% of the people, as a wedge issue. Thou shalt not lie.

Margaret Eyler

Why didn’t you mention the number of “theraputic” killings in the first trimester? Your fluffy, cherry-picked argument is weak. Speaking of weak, if anyone is desperate for votes is the democrat party—allowing illegals to flood into our country to build their base (and further stretch our resources for needy Americans). The most “vicious, unethical” phenomenon happening today is the power grab by Dems away from the people, so the allmightly “1%” which calls all the shots in Big Gov can keep the low people low.

rodney carswell

Delusional

Carolyn DM

Hilarious!! Keep your preaching in church!!

Lupe Molina

Generations from now, our progeny will look back on comments like this with amazement as we do Roman vomitoriums and indentured servitude. Jesus was a born a foreign refugee.

Margaret Eyler

Perhaps you should recall a bit more of the Bible than you’re selectively recalling🧐

John Cook

I understand that you would like to make Leviticus the whole law. However, the person quoted spoke of Christian values. Thus, I replied concerning the teachings of Christ. I'm willing to talk Leviticus but you won't like where that goes, either.

Lupe Molina

Lol. Right back at you. I guess you don't wear wool with cotton either? Or cut your hair on the corners of your head? Do you think seafood is a sin? And we're the ones being selective?

Ed Hardlied

Not exactly an even-handed article, especially considering that the gop candidate is getting DRUBBED.

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