Early voting begins in earnest Saturday for the special election for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District seat, though Election Day is officially June 1. And this race has someone for everyone: a Republican lawmaker who once blocked for the Lobos, a new Democratic lawmaker with plenty of policy experience, a Libertarian candidate who lives outside the district, an Independent with a familiar name who is the only candidate to have won a statewide race, and two largely unknown write-in candidates.
But the most promising candidate to help us fight crime, ensure our public schools are accountable to our children and enable our economic recovery is Republican state Sen. Mark Moores.
Moores has experience early in his career working for U.S. Rep. Steve Schiff and nine years of state Senate experience representing part of Northeast Albuquerque. He states clearly that Joe Biden is our president and we need Congress to work with him. Last fall, we endorsed Moores in his successful reelection bid for state Senate in great part because of his pragmatic, collaborative approach. He says he’s “willing to work with anyone, anywhere” and has proved that on myriad issues with Democratic colleagues, most recently redistricting, recreational cannabis and pay for student athletes. He is principled but not an ideologue, which would enable him to work across party lines in Congress.
We also appreciate Moores’ balanced views on energy. He voted in favor of the state’s landmark Energy Transition Act of 2019 that calls for a 100% carbon-free electric grid by 2045. And he opposes moratoriums on fracking, drilling and permitting because he knows how much those draconian measures hurt the state’s 42,000 direct and 134,000 indirect oil and gas workers. His build-a-bridge-to-clean-energy rather than send-the-state-economy-off-a-cliff approach is essential for a state where 12% of the workforce is employed by energy producers and a third of the budget is funded via fossil fuels.
Moores is a partner in a state medical laboratory that tested for COVID-19 throughout the pandemic and understands how the virus has hurt New Mexicans and our economy. He knows we need a more vibrant economy and safer community to attract medical and other professionals.
He maintains police reform, better training and appropriate equipment are essential for better law enforcement – but if this is to be a safe place to live so are better behavioral health systems and support for our professional and dedicated officers. He says the federal government has a role in ensuring standards for our students and providing funding and that families should have options when it comes to public education. And he vows to fight for our national labs and military bases.
Last fall, we endorsed Democratic candidate Melanie Stansbury in her successful bid for her Northeast Heights state House seat in part because of her policy experience at the White House Office of Management and Budget, and Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Stansbury is sharp, knowledgeable, professional and likeable. If you support a progressive agenda, she is a strong candidate.
She does have a tendency to avoid answering questions and can drift into platitudes (we are still unclear how she would “diversify the economy” or what she believes constitutes a “good job”), and we have too much of that on Capitol Hill already.
Her support for the BREATHE Act, which would divest tax dollars from policing and “abandon police, prisons, and all punishment paradigms,” is troubling.
That’s particularly true given our serious crime problem in Albuquerque and record-setting homicide pace – four on Wednesday alone. Yet at the same time Stansbury has supported first responders in her two-plus years in the state House, including authorizing $2.9 million in capital outlay spending to purchase and equip new vehicles and $250,000 for body armor and active-shooter equipment for the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office.
Stansbury’s strong support of the moratorium on drilling, raising the federal minimum wage, eventually closing prisons and cutting defense spending, as well as her flat-out rejection of school choice, likely make her an attractive choice for some voters in the progressive-leaning 1st Congressional District, which includes most of Bernalillo County, all of Torrance County and parts of Sandoval, Santa Fe and Valencia counties.
But it’s not what New Mexico and CD1 need right now.
Libertarian Chris Manning should appeal to voters concerned about the erosion of their civil liberties during the pandemic. But he lives in Kirtland, over a hundred miles outside the congressional district, and acknowledges he’s in the race largely to raise awareness for the Libertarian Party.
Independent Aubrey Dunn is the only candidate to have won a statewide election, prevailing in the 2014 race for state land commissioner. He knows Albuquerque from his days in real estate, and he knows rural values as an active rancher. He is a former member of both the Republican and Libertarian parties and likely appeals to those voters who truly want an independent, swing vote in Congress.
And there are write-in candidates Laura Olivas and Robert Ornelas, but few know who they are or why they’re running, and like Manning, neither responded to the Journal’s published call for an endorsement interview.
The Journal editorial board’s choice for New Mexicans in CD1 is someone who wants to take a bite out of crime, realistically transition our energy jobs, hold our public schools accountable and help the state recover from the pandemic. And all while working across party lines. That’s Mark Moores.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.