The Republican Party of New Mexico on Saturday selected Mark Moores to run in the special election for the 1st Congressional District seat vacated by U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
Moores, a state senator who has represented Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights since 2013, received 49 of 121 votes cast by the district’s central committee. Eddy Aragon, a talk radio host, finished second with 34 votes, and Elisa Martinez finished third with 20 votes.
Moores said he had already been looking ahead to the June 1 special election.
“We’re doing our TV commercials tomorrow. We don’t have time to wait. Absentee ballots go out in six weeks. I am a proven leader, and I’ve gotten our team organized,” Moores said before the vote. “We’re going to do this. We’re going to win. We’re going to beat [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi.”
Moores, who played football at the University of New Mexico, said his campaign has raised $250,000 from oil and gas companies and personal friends. He also touted endorsements from the National Rifle Association and anti-abortion groups. He started his political career as a staff member for U.S. Rep. Steve Schiff in the 1990s and as chief of staff for former Lt. Gov. Walter Bradley, who worked under Gov. Gary Johnson from 1995 to 2003.
Moores will be considered an underdog as he tries to reverse a blue trend in the district around Albuquerque, which has been dominated by Democrats since 2009, including current U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich; Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham; and Haaland, who won reelection in November with over 59 percent of the votes cast. Democrats hold a 219-211 majority in the House.
Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Steve Pearce and Moores said they plan to campaign as champions of the oil and gas industry as well as of police. In January, President Joe Biden suspended new drilling permits on federal land, including more than half of all oil and gas wells in New Mexico, and last month, Lujan Grisham wrote the White House a letter warning the policy would hurt state revenue.
“New Mexico has really suffered a lot because of the Biden administration ban on oil and gas drilling. We need those resources,” Moores said. “The radical agenda of the defund-the-police effort has really scared a lot of people, so we’re really going to be talking about that.”
During a news conference following the vote, Moores dodged questions about whether he supported the most recent federal stimulus package or if he would have voted to certify November’s presidential election results.
“I was focused here in Santa Fe fighting for my district,” Moores said. “I’m going to move forward as we battle for this election and we talk about the issues that matter here in New Mexico.”