Deb Haaland was elected as the representative for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District Tuesday night.
She became the first Native American women elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, beating out Republican Janice Arnold-Jones and Libertarian Lloyd Princeton.
Sharice Davis won her race in Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District, making her and Haaland the first two Native American congresswomen.
Haaland said her first priority in the House will be focusing on the issues detailed in her campaign, including climate change and health care.
“I’m going to congress to fight for the things I talked about for 18 months in my campaign,” Haaland said. “Making sure that we fight climate change, moving to 100 percent renewable energy, making sure every single New Mexican has health care.”
Haaland’s other priorities include tax reform, comprehensive immigration reform and gender equality.
The seat for the 1st Congressional District became available after incumbent Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced her 2018 Midterm Election run for governor.
The race for the first district comes with a hefty price tag, according to data from OpenSecrets.org, a nonpartisan money in election watchdog. As of Oct. 17, Haaland outspent Arnold-Jones’ campaign seven to one, with Haaland’s campaign spending almost $1.8 million dollars compared to Arnold-Jones’ $251,000. Princeton, spent roughly $62,000.
Haaland is a member and tribal administrator of the Pueblo of Laguna. She graduated from the University of New Mexico and UNM School of Law. Previously, Haaland was the chairwoman of the Native American Democratic Caucus of New Mexico. In 2014, she ran for lieutenant governor before becoming the chairwoman of the New Mexico Democratic Party.
Haaland’s campaign manager, Scott Forrester, said Haaland worked hard for her historic win Tuesday night.
“It’s a great night for Democrats in this historic moment to send the first Native American woman to congress (who will) go and fight for working families here in New Mexico,” Forrester said. “Deb has worked her butt off to get where she is and I think she’s going to be a beacon of light and hope in the Trump era.”
Arnold-Jones said in her concession speech that the Congressional Race was a tough race.
“I knew going into this race what the numbers are,” Arnold-Jones said in her concession speech. “Let me remind you — 195,000 Democrats, 122,000 Republicans and 103,000 Independents. It’s a tough race, but this state is worth it.”
According to polling information from the New Mexico Secretary of State’s website, altogether, Haaland received more than 141,000 votes, compared to Arnold-Jones pulling about 86,500 votes. However, in Torrance County, the Republican candidate led Haaland’s roughly 1,900 votes by almost 1,200 votes.
In Bernalillo County, Arnold-Jones received about 78,000 votes compared to Haaland’s 132,800 votes. Santa Fe County saw Arnold-Jones leading Haaland by 340 votes, compared to Haaland’s 606 votes. Haaland won Sandoval County at almost 5,274 votes compared to Arnold-Jones' almost 3,630. Valencia County saw Haaland’s victory with 1,065 votes compared to Arnold-Jones’ 903 votes.
Haaland’s daughter and recent University of New Mexico graduate, Somah Haaland, said her mother’s win is a reflection of the amount of young people who voted in the midterm election.
“I’ve never seen so many young people mobilized to vote, I’ve never seen so many of my peers encouraging others to vote, and I think it’s definitely giving my generation a greater sense of hope after the last two years,” Somah said.
Emily Hartshorn, a junior majoring in political science and Associated Students of UNM Attorney General, said Haaland’s decision to come to UNM for a debate showed that she cared about student voters.
“She obviously cares about getting everyone’s vote and not just the classic, old people vote,” Hartshorn said.
What started out as an optimistic, high-energy night slowly turned to disappointment for Republican watch party attendee Dave Elledge.
“I’m not surprised at all by the outcome tonight,” Elledge said. “What I am is disappointed that people voted party lines instead of issues that mattered.”
Of the many variables that affected her campaign, Arnold-Jones said the biggest one was identity politics.
“None of us have any control over who our parents are and if that is our criteria for representation, then I think we’re going to lose because the founders believe that you should elect people based on their ability,” Arnold-Jones said.
On her website, Arnold-Jones focus points are immigration, jobs and health care. Arnold-Jones’ official campaign website said she wants to “protect our land and bases” and “eliminate unnecessary regulations” to spur economic growth.
Arnold-Jones’ stance on immigration is to enforce border security “because both neighbors respect the line and law.” Arnold-Jones’ site states she seeks to reform immigration policies; close visa loopholes and find a “permanent solution for (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals),” however, Arnold-Jones’ specific wants for reform are unclear.
Arnold-Jones’ site says her stance on health care is to enable “worldwide competitive drug pricing” and for patient-authorized sharing of all medical testing with medical professionals and organizations.
In early Sept. during a segment of Fox and Friends, Arnold-Jones landed in hot water after she made comments casting doubt about Haaland’s Native American heritage. On Sept. 21, Arnold-Jones made a public apology to the All Pueblo Council of Governors, regarding her comments, according to the New Mexico Political Report.
Arnold-Jones won her 2018 primary election by being the only Republican candidate on the ballot — pulling in more than 19,000 votes.
Arnold-Jones was a candidate for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District in 2012, losing to Lujan Grisham by more than 50,000 votes, according to election results from the New Mexico Secretary of State’ website. Arnold-Jones also served in the state’s House of Representatives from 2003 to 2011 representing District 24. She was also a candidate for governor in 2010.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Sharice Davids won Kansas' 6th Congressional District. She actually won the 3rd Congressional District.
Tom Hanlon is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TomHanlonNM.
Anthony Jackson is a staff reporter with the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @TonyAnjackson.