Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis has a ready reply when voters ask what distinguishes him from five other Democratic candidates in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District race: He’s the only one who’s been elected to public office and passed legislation.
A former Washington, D.C., police officer and founder of the liberal advocacy group ProgressNow New Mexico, Davis was elected to the Albuquerque City Council in 2015 representing Nob Hill, the International District, Mesa Del Sol, the University of New Mexico and much of the Southeast Heights.
During his tenure in office, Davis, 39, has sponsored legislation that was signed into law to improve school shooting investigations, promote clean energy and reform the Albuquerque Police Department. He has also noted in interviews and in campaign advertisements that he’s supported pro-LGBTQ positions and that, if elected, he would be New Mexico’s first “openly gay” member of Congress.
“They want to see somebody who’s got a record,” Davis said of 1st District voters. “What they keep saying is, ‘Show me what you’ve done.’ Folks who care about immigration, the war on drugs, criminal justice and climate change, they are coming back to candidates like me who have actually worked on those issues and shown how we turn rhetoric into results and have actually passed legislation.”
Davis acknowledged that he earned a reputation as a political bomb-thrower while at ProgressNow New Mexico. The Santa Fe New Mexican dubbed him Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s “harshest critic” at one point. But Davis said working effectively as an elected official requires compromise, and said he’s learned to do that, passing police reform and renewable energy legislation with the help of Republicans.
“Nobody is more surprised than me that I sponsored more legislation with (Republican Albuquerque City Councilors) Trudy Jones and Brad Winter than I did with (Democrat) Ike Benton,” Davis said, before making it clear that his national priorities align very closely with the Democratic Party’s. “As a Democrat, I’m going to vote with Democratic leadership most of the time … for the agenda that we think the country needs to take the White House back in 2020.”
Davis said economic issues dominate voter concerns in the 1st District and that, if elected, he would work in concert with state and local officials in New Mexico to set priorities at the federal level aimed at job creation. He said that too often in the past, local, state and federal leaders have failed to coordinate agendas.
“I think you have to have somebody who is willing to get on a plane and work with (Albuquerque Mayor) Tim (Keller) and whoever the governor is and press a united agenda,” Davis said. “That’s one of the reasons in the last eight years or so that we haven’t gotten very far, because Santa Fe and Albuquerque and folks in D.C. are working in totally different directions. We have to reform our economy.”
Davis also said he would prioritize criminal justice reform, including relaxing the nation’s harsh drug laws and working on sentencing reform, as well as advocating for policies that combat climate change.
“Having a record on that, and my experiences, will help me fast-track a way to being a valuable tool in the process,” Davis said.
Davis was raised in Newnan, Ga., by a postal worker father and mother who taught elementary school and later became a principal. After working as a police dispatcher to help put himself through Berry College in Georgia, Davis joined the U.S. Capitol Police force, protecting members of Congress, and later he worked for the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department, where he was a foot patrol and bicycle officer.
In 2004, he moved to New Mexico to accept a job as a lieutenant on the University of New Mexico police force.
Davis’ campaign has been endorsed by the International Union; United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America; National LGBTQ Victory Fund; The Pride Fund to End Gun Violence; Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America; Demand Universal Healthcare (DUH!) and some state and local elected officials.