SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Deb Haaland’s departure Tuesday from Congress to serve as U.S. Interior Department secretary triggers a special election to choose a successor, starting with a rarely invoked nomination process that relies on a small group of major-party political insiders.
Haaland, a tribal member of Laguna Pueblo, delivered an emotional farewell address to the House of Representatives, reflecting on her opportunity there to act as a role model to “little girls everywhere.” Haaland’s initial election to Congress in 2018 and Monday’s Cabinet confirmation set new milestones for Native American women in U.S. government.
Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver set the special election date for June 1st. The Democratic and Republican Parties quickly announced that they would work to name party nominees by the end of March.
Republican, Democratic and possibly Libertarian party nominees will be chosen by fewer than 200 members of the parties’ central committees.
First Congressional District voters rejected the Democratic nominee under similar procedures in 1998 to elect Heather Wilson, and rebuffed another Democratic central-committee pick in 1997 when Rep. Bill Richardson left the state’s northern 3rd Congressional District for the post of U.N. ambassador.
The 1st Congressional District has grown increasingly progressive since then, electing Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham — now governor — three times and Haaland twice, with a 16% margin of victory in 2020.
In Bernalillo County, the district’s core population base, Donald Trump won just 36% of the vote in 2021. The district also encompasses rural Torrance County and portions of Sandoval and Valencia counties.
Former State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn Jr., who won statewide election in 2014 as a Republican to oversee the state’s mineral leasing programs that help fund public school education, has collected thousands of signatures to run for the congressional seat as an independent, son and campaign manager A. Blair Dunn said.
A. Blair Dunn said the campaign will focus on libertarian themes of restraint in government spending and criminal justice reforms that including cannabis decriminalization.
A bipartisan proposal to hold district-wide primary elections to nominate major-party candidates has stalled in the Legislature.
Co-sponsors include a prominent contender for the GOP congressional nomination, state Sen. Mark Moores, a former football lineman at the University of New Mexico.
Republican contenders also include talk radio show host Eddy Aragon, attorney and Clovis native Jared Vander Dussen and Michaela Chavez, a bookkeeper who unsuccessfully ran last year for state Senate.
Contenders for the Democratic nomination include state Reps. Melanie Stansbury, Georgene Louis and Patricia Roybal Caballero, along with state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez. Trial attorney Randi McGinn and Victor Reyes, the former legislative liaison to Gov. Grisham, also are seeking the nomination.
President Joe Biden has nominated New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland to serve as secretary of the US Department of Interior. If confirmed by the US Senate, an outcome no longer in dispute, she will be the first Native American to hold a cabinet post and the highest-ranking Native woman ever to serve in the US […]