Today, the Journal announces its endorsements for contested primary races for the U.S. House of Representatives. The state’s congressional district boundaries have changed significantly since redistricting. To see in which of the three congressional districts you reside, go to voterportal.servis.sos.state.nm.us/WhereToVote.aspx. For ongoing coverage that will include candidate Q&As and more endorsements, go to abqjournal.com/election-guide.
Congressional District 1
Republican, Michelle Garcia Holmes
As a former police officer and detective with a focus on homicides and sex crimes against children, Michelle Garcia Holmes stands out. She’s tough as nails but compassionate, with over 20 years at the Albuquerque Police Department and eight years at the N.M. Attorney General’s Office, and she can bring an informed and credible voice to the national discussion on crime.
As a rookie at APD in her early 20s, the Valley High School graduate volunteered for an undercover assignment as a student at Eldorado High School. A three-month investigation led to the arrests of several adults affiliated with a Mexican drug cartel who were using young people in a drug and burglary operation.
Garcia Holmes worked in numerous divisions of APD and knows what we’re dealing with both in terms of resources and threats — and tackling crime would be one of her top priorities if elected. “Drug and human trafficking are out of control,” she said. “Fentanyl is killing our young people and contributing to the violence. We need bond reform and to end ‘catch and release’ immediately. Violent criminals must be prosecuted, and our southern border must be secured.”
As chief of staff for former N.M. Attorney General Gary King — a Democrat — Garcia Holmes helped establish the first statewide government corruption division and worked to pass New Mexico’s first human-trafficking bill. As a former member of human trafficking and joint terrorism task forces, she knows how migrants are being exploited by criminal organizations and the national security risks of an open border.
At the same time, she supports expanding guestworker programs and wants to break the political logjam in Congress regarding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a 2015 executive branch memorandum of former President Barack Obama that allows some children brought into the U.S. illegally to receive a temporary deferment from deportation, but which has never been approved by Congress. “Our DACA people need relief,” she says. “I’m tired of seeing it used as a political tool.”
While local crime is terrifying, gun violence and homicides are by no means just an Albuquerque crisis. An experienced retired cop in the U.S. House could serve the nation well at a time when every major city is struggling with crime. Garcia Holmes is the right candidate, at the right time.
She faces Republican Louie Sanchez in the primary. The winner will face Democratic incumbent Melanie Stansbury in the general election.
Congressional District 2
Democrat, Gabe Vasquez
New Mexico statehouse Democrats, as well as some Democratic members of Congress, are rallying around the candidacy of 37-year-old former Las Cruces City Councilor Gabe Vasquez to be the party’s nominee for New Mexico’s Congressional District 2.
Both he and his opponent come from working-class immigrant backgrounds. Both are pushing progressive platforms that share a lot of overlap.
Each is touting career experience as relevant to the lives of everyday New Mexicans.
But Vasquez’ experience demonstrates a commitment to community leadership. He served one term on the Las Cruces City Council. He’s worked as an aide for U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. (who has endorsed him), executive director of the Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces and community outreach director for HECHO/National Wildlife Federation. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from New Mexico State University.
“I believe strongly in the values of hard work, because I’ve lived them,” he wrote in his Journal Q&A. “I’ve written and passed policy at the local, state and federal level and have served my community as a public servant.”
Vasquez was born in El Paso but has lived on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I’ve seen the immense benefit that immigrant workers and families bring to our communities and economy,” he wrote on his campaign website. “But our immigration system is broken. … We must reform our immigration system to protect DREAMers and provide hard-working families with a permanent path to citizenship, while ensuring we have a safe and secure border.”
Vasquez the conservationist is pragmatic when it comes to oil and gas and transitioning to a green economy.
“Bureau of Land Management lands in New Mexico are governed by a multiple-use mandate, and we should continue to use our resources wisely to protect our energy independence, while looking toward the future of our rural economies by promoting uses of federal land that encourage renewable energy development,” he says.
Both Democrats are for common-sense gun reforms, comprehensive immigration reform, lower health-care and childcare costs and building an economy that strengthens the middle class.
But Vasquez’s endorsements from many notable New Mexico Democrats and his measured stance on energy make him the best candidate in the primary. The winner will face incumbent U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell in November’s general election.
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.