Democrats pick Melanie Stansbury to seek congressional seat

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Democratic Party leaders have picked state Rep. Melanie Stansbury as the nominee to defend an Albuquerque-based congressional seat left open by newly confirmed Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.

Stansbury edged out state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez by four votes in runoff balloting among 200 members of the state central committee on the nomination.

The second-term legislator will confront Republican state Sen. Mark Moores in a June 1 special congressional election.

Democrats have held the 1st Congressional District seat since 2009. Of 199 central committee votes, Sedillo Lopez receive 74 endorsements and Stansbury got 43.

Stansbury has worked previously in Washington at the White House budget office and as a Senate committee staffer.

In 2018, she defeated a seven-term Republican incumbent as a wave of progressive female politicians joined the state House.

The district is seen as increasingly progressive. Republicans say they’ll seize on an opportunity to win in a possible low-turnout election.

In Bernalillo County, the district’s core population base, former President Donald Trump won just 36% of the vote in November.

The district also encompasses rural Torrance County and portions of Sandoval and Valencia counties.