New Mexico’s first congressional district candidates power up for November election

Democrat Debra Haaland’s campaign headquarters in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 10, 2018.

The Albuquerque area is gearing up for the election in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District set for Nov. 6, with contenders Democrat Debra Haaland, Republican Janice Arnold-Jones and Libertarian Lloyd Princeton.

The district serves the central area of New Mexico, including most of Bernalillo County with three-fourths in Albuquerque. Parts of Torrance, Sandoval, Santa Fe and Valencia Counties are also in the district.

District one has been represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham since 2013, but Grisham is vacating the seat to run for New Mexico’s open governor’s seat this fall.

If elected, Haaland would be the first Native American woman to serve in congress. Haaland is a graduate of the University of New Mexico whose political experience includes two terms as the first Native American to chair the Democratic party of New Mexico. During that time she saw the state flip from red to blue.

“The district has begun to skew a lot more blue since Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) beat John Barela (R-N.M.) back in 2010,” said Haaland’s Campaign Manager, Scott Forrester.

Haaland’s campaign has invested in text messaging systems and social media, reaching out to the voters more personally, Forrester said.

Scott Forrester is the campaign manager for the democrat party in the First Congressional District in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Sept. 10, 2018.

“We have five offices in this district. I know part of (Haaland’s) field game is to talk to first-time voters to make sure that we’re engaging people that just registered,” Forrester said.

In a June 2018 financial report, fundraising for Haaland was about $1.1 million with almost $900,000 of it spent. Haaland on hand has about $240,000. Arnold-Jones raised over $100,000 with almost $80,000 spent. Arnold-Jones has almost $43,000 on hand.

Arnold-Jones served in the New Mexico house of representatives from 2003-2011 and a is former member of Albuquerque city council. She graduated from UNM in 1974 and has been awarded the William S. Dixon Award by the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government by bringing a webcam into legislature committee meetings

Arnold-Jones is a former small business owner and contractor to Sandia Labs. Her community involvement lead to her run for state legislature in 2002, according to her campaign website.

“I think it’s important that you contribute to your community and I hope that is a question that is asked but it usually isn’t — and that’s just the political process,” Arnold-Jones said.

Arnold-Jones has a tough climb ahead. She points out that voter registration for District One is just over 100,000 Republicans and almost 200,000 Democrats.

“The preponderance of the philosophy is on the side of the Democrats. I don’t feel bad about it, it is what it is. So I have to make a very strong case as to why my perspective is more helpful in Congress,” Arnold-Jones said.

Voters can hear the candidates offering their contrasting perspectives in an upcoming debate on Oct. 2 at UNM.