After suffering a setback at the beginning of the month in a congressional special election in Texas, Democrats are taking no chances this time around in neighboring New Mexico in the showdown for a safe seat the party has held for a dozen years.
Early voting’s been underway for a week and a half for next Tuesday’s special election in the state’s 1st Congressional District, in the race to succeed Deb Haaland, who stepped down from her congressional seat after she was confirmed as Interior Secretary in President Biden’s Cabinet.
The district, in the central part of the New Mexico, includes roughly three-quarters of Albuquerque, the state’s largest city. It’s a solidly blue seat – Haaland won reelection last year by 16 points and Biden carried the district by 23 points over then-President Trump.
While local observers say the Democratic candidate, state Rep. Melanie Stansbury, enjoys a substantial advantage over the Republican candidate, state Sen. Mark Moores, when it comes to early voter turnout, Democrats are staying aggressive – outraising and outspending the GOP – rather than coasting to what will likely be a victory next week.
“Democrats aren’t taking any votes for granted and are committed to ensuring New Mexicans make their voices heard in this important election,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) spokesman Adrian Eng-Gastelum told Fox News.
One reason for the Democrats full court press is that the party can ill afford to lose another seat due to their incredibly fragile and razor-thin majority in the House of Representatives, which is their smallest since World War II.
Another reason — Democrats had high hopes in the May 1 special election in a northern Texas in a district that’s long been held by Republicans but has become increasingly competitive in recent years. Nearly two dozen candidates were on the ballot and Democrats expected to make the runoff in the race to succeed the late Rep. Ron Wright, who died of COVID-19 complications in February. But the party was shut out, with the top Democrat coming in third.
Stansbury has dramatically out raised Moores and she’s out spent him by a two-to-one margin to run ads. And while the DCCC has infused some resources in the race, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and pro-GOP outside groups have stayed on the sidelines.
“This is an uphill battle for Republicans,” a Republican strategist familiar with congressional races told Fox News.
But the strategist, who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely, suggested that the Democrats are running scared, saying “the reality is Democrats are terrified of making an unforced error and doing everything they can to ensure they win what should be a safe Democrat seat.”
Joe Monahan, a veteran non-partisan New Mexico political analyst and reporter, noted that that Moores and the Republicans “are trying to make the race about crime. Albuquerque, like many cities, has had a major breakout in violent crime.”
Moores is highlighting Stansbury’s initial support for the BREATHE Act, a wide ranging push for policing reform penned by activists allied with the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Rampant crime, drug violence, a record number of homicides in Albuquerque this year. It’s never been more dangerous. Melanie Stanbury’s plan – supporting legislation that defunds the police,” charges the narrator in a recent Moores commercial that Stansbury disputes.
Democrats argue that the GOP attacks won’t stick and continue to push their positive theme. “Melanie Stansbury’s message of rebuilding the economy to work for all New Mexicans is resonating with voters, and we will continue to build on this momentum by turning out voters in every community across New Mexico’s 1st district,” Eng-Gastelum said.
Monahan notes that Stansbury’s “campaigning on the coronavirus pandemic recovery fostered by Biden and her record as a state representative.”
“I don’t know anybody more effective that Melanie Stansbury,” says a voter in one of the candidate’s ad.
With next Tuesday’s election falling directly after Memorial Day, Monahan predicted that “most of the vote will be cast during the early voting period, which the Democrats are dominating.”
But with two other candidates in the race – a Libertarian and an independent – he said there’s a slight chance for an upset “based on very low turnout or some kind of freak incident.”