ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Democrat Melanie Stansbury is headed to Washington to represent the Albuquerque area in Congress. Stansbury’s victory was a landslide over Republican Mark Moores, who was trailing by 24 points. This marks the third special election for a Congressional seat in New Mexico in 24 years.
As of 8:36 p.m. with all precincts at least partially reporting, Stansbury had racked up 63,078 votes compared to her closet challenger Moores who had 33,711 votes. The race was called about an hour after the polls closed.
The rare special election contest featured four candidates including Stansbury, Republican Mark Moores, Independent Aubery Dunn, and Libertarian Chris Manning. As of 8:36 p.m., Manning had received at least 1,280 votes while Dunn receives at least 2,675 votes.
Supporters were out celebrating at Hotel Albuquerque and Stansbury hopes her victory is a sign for the election next year. “This was such an important victory to our state, our community, and to our country, I’m just so proud,” Stansbury said.
“I am proud to stand here tonight as your next Congresswoman in the United States of America in the House of Representatives,” Stansbury said in her acceptance speech Tuesday night. Stansbury is the first Democrat elected to Congress in a Special Election in New Mexico.
Stansbury shared her priorities for her new role. “The number one priority is the economy and getting New Mexicans back to work. You know, I think everyone is struggling right now in terms of coming out of the pandemic but we also need to be addressing the systemic issues in our community like hunger and homelessness and investing in education and infrastructure, and addressing environmental issues. So all of those things are important right now, but the economy is front and center,” said Stansbury.
Stansbury is a two-term state representative while Moores is now in his third term as a state senator. Both candidates represent virtually the same areas of Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights and Foothills.
Before her time in the Roundhouse, Stansbury worked in community development and has a background in natural resources and science issues like water security. With Stansbury’s victory, New Mexico will maintain its all-female U.S. House delegation and is the first state to have all-female representatives.
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, nearly 27% of the 458,546 voters in CD1 had cast a ballot in the election. Data from the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office shows nearly 68,000 of those voters are registered Democrats while nearly 39,000 of those voters are registered Republicans.
There were 70 polling sites open in Bernalillo County Tuesday night through 7 p.m. While most of the voting will take place in Albuquerque, parts of Sandoval, Torrance, Valencia, and Santa Fe counties are also part of the CD1 area.
Democrats have held the seat among three different candidates since 2008. KRQE Political Analyst and UNM Political Science Professor Gabe Sanchez thinks it’s likely to remain that way, but he says special elections can be unpredictable.
“Typically we think about these special elections as benefiting Republicans,” Sanchez said in a recent interview with KRQE News 13. “That tends to be the case largely because you tend to have highly informed voters participate when you don’t have a lot of time to get engaged in that race and that tends to favor Republicans.”
Notably, one thing that has trended toward Democrats, so far, is the first election with same-day voter registration (SDR.) According to the Secretary of State, 1,488 voters in CD1 had taken part in the SDR process, including 816 Democrats and 467 Republicans as of Tuesday afternoon.
Stansbury says she plans on starting her work for her new role Wednesday. She also says she will most likely be heading to Washington in a couple of weeks.
Democrats have now won eight elections in a row in Congressional District 1 with the average margin of victory at about 18 points. Turnout for Tuesday’s election was low, hitting about 29%.