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Democrat Stansbury Keeps New Mexico U.S. House Seat In Party's Hands

Melanie Stansbury speaks during a campaign rally in Albuquerque, N.M., on Thursday.
Susan Montoya Bryan
Melanie Stansbury speaks during a campaign rally in Albuquerque, N.M., on Thursday.

Updated June 1, 2021 at 10:27 PM ET

New Mexico Democrats kept control of the U.S. House seat left vacant by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, in one of the party's earliest tests of its messaging during the administration of President Biden.

Melanie Stansbury has defeated Republican opponent Mark Moores, according to a race call from The Associated Press.

The victory was expected. Polls showed Stansbury with a comfortable lead, and Biden won the district by 23 percentage points last year.

But the expectations were not an indication to Democrats to take their foot off the gas in the race, which represented a number of priorities for the party, including natural resources and the Native American vote.

Both Stansbury and Moores serve in the state legislature.

The congressional seat has sat vacant since March, when Haaland was confirmed as the first Native American to head the Department of the Interior.

While the central New Mexico district has historically favored Democratic candidates, Republicans had been hoping an upset win could help them move closer to taking back the House majority in next year's midterm elections.

Democrats currently hold a a razor-thin advantage of only eight seats in the House.

New Mexico is a state rich in natural resources and home to one of the nation's largest Native American populations. Stansbury had called on her background in science to promote herself as a champion of the state's land and water resources.

Moores, a third-generation state official, sought to accuse Democrats of villainizing law enforcement, while emphasizing his support for lifting environmental regulations aimed at drilling for oil and gas.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Alana Wise
Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.