Democrat Stansbury wins special election for Haaland's House seat

New Mexico state Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D) on Tuesday defeated New Mexico state Sen. Mark Moores (R) in the special election to fill the House seat formerly held by Interior Secretary Deb HaalandDeb HaalandTracy Stone-Manning's confirmation treatment was simply unacceptable — and it must stop Overnight Energy: Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections | Biden to return to pre-Obama water protections | Western governors ask Biden for aid on wildfires Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections MORE.

The Associated Press called the race at 10:04 p.m. ET.

The special election in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District was seen as an early test of both parties’ strengths ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

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Stansbury, an environmental consultant who was elected to the state House in 2018, leaned heavily on her science background to cast herself as a champion for New Mexico’s natural resources.

But the race also spotlighted an issue that Democrats fear could emerge as a weak point for them next year: crime. Throughout the race, Moores repeatedly painted Stansbury as unsupportive of law enforcement and campaigned against surging crime rates, including the rising homicide rate in Albuquerque.

Democrats currently hold a razor-thin, eight-seat advantage in the House and are expected to face an uphill battle next year to protect their majority in the lower chamber. A handful of House Democrats are either retiring or seeking other elected offices next year. Meanwhile, decennial redistricting is expected to favor Republicans, who hold power in key state legislatures.

Democrats are also confronting the historical truth that the party of a new president typically loses ground in the midterms.

New Mexico’s 1st District, which includes most of Albuquerque, has been in Democratic hands for more than a decade. Haaland won the seat in 2018 but stepped down in March after she was confirmed to lead the Interior Department.