It's believed to be a first for any state with at least three
Democrat Debra Haaland defeated Republican Janice E.
Arnold-Jones in the race for one of New Mexico's open U.S. House
seats, becoming one of the first Native American women
elected to Congress. She also beat Libertarian Lloyd J.
Princeton in the district that includes Albuquerque, New
Mexico's largest city.
The seat was open because incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep.
Michelle Lujan Grisham opted to run for New Mexico governor.
She won, meaning the reins of state government will pass from
one Latina to another as termed-out Gov. Susana Martinez
Meanwhile, a hotly contested U.S. House race in southern New
Mexico—between Republican Yvette Herrell, a member of the
Cherokee Nation, and Democrat Xochitl Torres Small—remained
too close to call late Tuesday. Torres Small is a granddaughter
of Mexican immigrants.
That seat was open because the incumbent Republican, Rep. Steve
Pearce, ran against Lujan Grisham.
Regardless of who wins, the state's House delegation will be all
people of color.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, who is Hispanic, won
a sixth term representing northern New Mexico's 3rd District. He
defeated Republican Jerald Steve McFall and Libertarian Chris
Lujan campaigned on efforts to advance immigration reform,
expand Medicaid and address climate change. He has spearheaded
efforts since 2014 to cut short Republican control of Congress
as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Lujan has long pushed for congressional candidates from diverse
backgrounds, like Haaland and Democrat Sharice Davids, a
member of the Ho-Chunk Nation who won a U.S. House seat in
Haaland is an enrolled Laguna Pueblo member. She was one
of a three Native American women seeking to become among the
first elected to Congress on Tuesday.
``New Mexico made history tonight,'' Haaland said. ``I want to
thank every single person who poured their heart and soul into
this campaign. Congress has never heard a voice like mine, but
when the 116th session of Congress begins, they will hear my
According to the U.S. Census, around 49 percent of New Mexico's
population is Hispanic and about 11 percent is Native
American. However, the voting participation of both populations
historically has lagged behind whites.
Haaland vastly outraised her opponents, and her win comes as
Donald Trump has repeatedly called U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren
``Pocahontas'' over her claims the senator from
Massachusetts has Native American ancestry.
Haaland's candidacy gained national attention during the
Democratic primary and excited Native Americans across the
country. The Winslow, Arizona-born activist defeated a crowded
field of mainly Hispanic candidates in a state with the largest
percentage of Latino residents.
Her primary victory came almost 50 years to the day after Robert
F. Kennedy won South Dakota's Democratic presidential primary
thanks to the Native American vote on the Pine Ridge Indian
Arnold-Jones sparked controversy after questioning Haaland's
Native American heritage during a Fox News interview. The
Republican said Haaland was a ``military brat'' who didn't grow
up on an American Indian reservation. Democrats denounced the
comments as bigoted and ill-informed.
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