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Democrat Melanie Stansbury will win New Mexico special election, CNN projects

Stansbury, a scientist who has served in the New Mexico state House since 2019, defeated Republican state Sen. Mark Moores. Her victory for the seat, which had been vacant since March, will give the narrow Democratic majority in the US House a bit more breathing room.
The central New Mexico district, which includes most of Albuquerque, was considered favorable ground for Democrats: The congressional seat has been in Democratic hands since 2009, after former Republican Rep. Heather Wilson retired to launch a Senate bid that ultimately failed. And Democratic presidential nominees have won the district in every election since 2004. Joe Biden defeated then-President Donald Trump there by 23 percentage points last year.
While the election doesn’t alter the balance of power in the US House, it brings the Democrats’ narrow majority to 220-211, with four seats vacant.
The race was seen as an indicator of the political environment a little more than four months into Biden’s presidency and is one of several early signs — along with governor’s races in Virginia and New Jersey this year — of the electorate’s mood headed into next year’s midterms.
The race garnered early voter turnout. More than 71,000 ballots, making up more than 15% of the registered voters in the district, were in by the middle of last week, the Albuquerque Journal reported. Registered Democrats had outpaced registered Republicans by more than 2-to-1 in early voting.
First lady Jill Biden visited New Mexico last month, and the White House dispatched Doug Emhoff, the second gentleman, to the state late last week to campaign for Stansbury.
“We need more women in government, we need more women in business and we need more men to step up and support them,” Emhoff said while campaigning with Stansbury.
The election also served as an early test to see whether Republicans’ strategy of latching Democratic candidates to their party’s most progressive police reform proposals will help the GOP win control of the House in next year’s midterms.
In ads and debates, Moores attempted to tie Stansbury to the BREATHE Act, a proposal drafted by Black Lives Matter activists that would slash spending on police and defense and instead offer grants to poor communities.
National Democrats had hoped the race would demonstrate that their voters are engaged after Democrats were surprisingly shut out of a runoff for a Texas congressional seat in early May, with Republicans finishing in the top two spots.
Stansbury had worked on environmental and community issues in the Obama administration and for the US Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
This story has been updated with additional details.
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