Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
State Rep. Melanie Stansbury staged an upset Wednesday night, besting Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez to become the Democratic nominee for New Mexico’s vacant 1st Congressional District seat.
The representative from Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights overcame a significant deficit to win the party’s nomination.
Despite heading into Wednesday’s runoff trailing by more than 15 percentage points after Tuesday’s vote, Stansbury earned 51.2% of the votes by New Mexico’s Democratic Party’s state central committee over Sedillo Lopez, who won 48.3%.
Stansbury and Sedillo Lopez were pitted against one another in a runoff after they received the most votes in an eight-person Democratic race Tuesday. They were seeking the nomination for a special election June 1 to determine who will fill the seat left vacant after Deb Haaland resigned to become interior secretary.
Stansbury has a background in community development, natural resources and science issues. In the last 20 years she has worked for federal, state, tribal, local and nonprofit organizations
During a Democratic forum last weekend, Stansbury touted her ability to flip voters to her side. She cited her 2018 election, when she won in a previously Republican state House district that straddles Tramway from Constitution to Montgomery.
Stansbury pulled off another win Wednesday, erasing Sedillo Lopez’s 15 percentage point lead among members of the New Mexico Democratic party’s state central committee.
“I am honored and proud to be chosen as the Democratic nominee to run for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District. It is a testament to the grit, determination, heart, and hard work of our team and everyone across the state who has worked so tirelessly to support this campaign. I am running for Congress because I believe deeply in our communities and our ability to bring meaningful change,” Stansbury said in a statement Wednesday night. “As we head into the general election, we know we can get the job done.”
Sedillo Lopez had opened up a wide lead – 37%-22% – during Tuesday’s voting. But because no candidate earned a majority, Sedillo Lopez and Stansbury, the top two vote-getters, faced off in a runoff Wednesday.
Stansbury received 103 votes from the Democratic party officials. Sedillo Lopez got 97.
“This has been a fantastic opportunity to hear from so many of our leading Democrats about the issues that matter most to voters,” said Marg Elliston, the chairwoman of the state Democratic Party. “Every campaign ran a great race, and now we look forward to coming together to put our full support behind Melanie Stansbury.”
Over the weekend, the Republican Party selected state Sen. Mark Moores as its candidate. And New Mexico Libertarians tapped Chris Manning, a Farmington war veteran, as their nominee.
Those three candidates will face off in a special election this summer.