The two New Mexico counties dominated by Albuquerque, Corrales, and Rio Rancho created a strong Democratic showing for Melanie Stansbury in the 1st Congressional District in the June 1 special election. Thanks to all the Bernalillo County Democratic volunteers who turned out to work and to vote.
Stansbury trounced Republican state senator Mark Moores 61% to 34% in Bernalillo and 59% to 36% in Sandoval County. But the story was different in the more rural areas within Congressional District 1 (CD1). Moores took the conservative Santa Fe County CD1 districts 55% to Stansbury’s 38%. Likewise, he won in Valencia County 49% to her 44% and in Torrance County, 54% to her 33%.
The need for rural outreach is plain. We Democrats have work to do—and, thanks to our rural caucus, we have already begun. Even though Bernalillo County is largely urban, the county party welcomes rural involvement and will rely heavily on ward and precinct chairs to find support for our platform and ideals.
Some Democrats may turn to redistricting after the decennial census as a rescue from the conservative domination of rural CD1 as well as in southern New Mexico’s Congressional District 2 (CD2). Republican Yvette Harrell unseated Xochitl Torres Small in the state’s southern Congressional District 2 (CD2) in the November 2020 general election.
However, redistricting alone is not a solution to this long-standing problem. The legislature’s new redistricting commission is designed to be nonpartisan. SB 304, sponsored by Democrat Brenda McKenna passed in the regular 2021 session and establishes a permanent redistricting commission for New Mexico for the first time
No more than three of the commission’s seven members may be members of the same political party. Further, none of the members can have been: a public official, a candidate for public office, a lobbyist, an office holder in a political party at the state or federal level, a close relative of a member of congress, the state house of representatives, the state senate or the public education commission; or a legislative or executive branch employee at the state or federal level within the previous two years. The commission will get to work in August and will hold six public meetings, some of which must be virtual. Democratic outreach in advance of the commission’s meetings and participation during them will be critical.
Some Democrats may worry that, without a party bias, Democrats cannot influence representation in the rural, more conservative areas either of the counties that supported Moores in CD1 or that supported Harrell in CD2. We don’t need bias. We have a progressive agenda that is of, by, and for the people. Good grassroots organizing and strong volunteer involvement can make all the difference.