SANTA FE – The field of Democratic candidates for an Albuquerque-based congressional district is swelling – even before Deb Haaland formally vacates the seat.
State Rep. Georgene Louis of Albuquerque announced Monday she is running for the 1st Congressional District seat, bringing the number of declared Democratic candidates in the race to four.
Louis, a member of Acoma Pueblo, said her experiences as a teen mom who worked her way through college and law school as a single parent would make her a natural successor to Haaland.
“I think those lived experiences are similar to those of a lot of New Mexicans,” she said in a Monday interview.
A state House member since 2013, Louis was recently reelected to a new two-year term, and currently chairs the House State Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee.
She said that job creation and health care access would be among her top priorities if elected to Congress, while also touting her willingness to reach across party lines to work with Republicans on legislation.
President-elect Joe Biden announced last month that he will nominate Haaland to lead the U.S. Department of Interior, which would make her the first Native American Cabinet secretary.
While Haaland does not have to relinquish her congressional seat until she’s confirmed by the U.S. Senate, the prospect of an open seat has already generated widespread interest among potential candidates.
The other Democrats who have already announced campaigns for the seat are state Rep. Melanie Stansbury, state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez and veteran attorney Randi McGinn – all of Albuquerque.
Another potential candidate, state Rep. Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, said Monday he would not be running for the seat, citing his focus on the upcoming 60-day legislative session.
Several other candidates have also said they are planning to run for the seat in the Democratic-leaning district, including Republicans Eddy Aragon and Michelle Garcia Holmes, who was defeated by Haaland in the November general election.
Under current state law, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver would have to call a special election to fill Haaland’s seat no later than 91 days after it is vacated.
The state’s major political parties would hold central committee meetings behind closed doors to nominate their own candidates before such an election.