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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — On Tuesday evening, New Mexico state Rep. Georgene Louis (Acoma Pueblo) was not selected as the Democratic nominee to go to bat to fill the 1st congressional district seat vacated by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. The New Mexico Democratic Party announced it would hold a runoff on Wednesday after no candidate garnered a majority vote to proceed to the special election that will be held June 1.

New Mexico state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez and state Rep. Melanie Stansbury will advance to Wednesday’s runoff election. 

Louis, a five-term state representative, a citizen of the Acoma Pueblo, a single mother, an ultra marathon runner, a tribal attorney and, for some, a flicker of hope for Indigenous people and beyond, was not chosen to move on in the selection process.

“In 2018 New Mexico made history when we sent a Native American woman to Congress and you just can't oversell the importance of having women of color at the decision making table,” Louis said in a candidate media briefing Tuesday afternoon. “I really believe that, by working together, we can make history again in 2021 and build a better future for all New Mexico.”  

The party’s State Central Committee, which is made up of about 200 local Democrats, met Tuesday in an internal election process to interview the eight candidates and then cast their votes. Louis was the only Native candidate.

According to the New Mexico Democratic Party, Louis received 13 votes. Lopez and Stanbury received 74 and 53 votes, respectively. 

In the days leading up to the candidate selection, Louis received endorsement from the All Pueblo Council of Governors (APCG), more than 120 tribes across Indian Country, and even stars like Mark Ruffalo. 

“I do feel that I am the candidate that's the most qualified,” Louis said Tuesday. “I do feel that I'm the candidate that can turn out voters on June 1. We have seen the support from tribes nationally, which is not going to be behind another candidate, because tribes see this as something that they're watching because Deb has been such a strong voice and a strong advocate for them.”

Louis is the chair of the New Mexico House Committee on State Government, Elections and Indian Affairs. She has successfully sponsored critically important and complex public policy issues, including legislation to bolster the economy, elevate the rights and contribution of women, require equity at all levels within state government, and create opportunities to improve education, health care access, honor and protect tribal sovereignty and the government-to-government relationship between the state of New Mexico and Pueblos and other tribal nations.

During the recent 2021 New Mexico legislative session, Rep. Louis sponsored several high-profile pieces of legislation, including the New Mexico Civil Rights Act, co-sponsored HJR1, Early Childhood Constitutional Amendment, co-sponsored HB7 to repeal the abortion ban, and sponsored HB 50, an important step toward environmental justice. She has been a strong proponent for the environment, small business, women-owned businesses, increasing the minimum wage, job creation, and supporting working people in their quest for equity and justice.

Louis’s campaign for the Democratic nomination focused on Covid-19 recovery, addressing the climate crisis, and passing the John Lewis Act that will ensure voters have access to polling locations.

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About The Author
Jenna Kunze
Author: Jenna KunzeEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Staff Writer
Jenna Kunze is a staff reporter covering Indian health, the environment and breaking news for Native News Online. She is also the publication's lead reporter on stories related to Indian boarding schools and repatriation. Her bylines have appeared in The Arctic Sounder, High Country News, Indian Country Today, Tribal Business News, Smithsonian Magazine, Elle and Anchorage Daily News. Kunze is based in New York.