ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Campaign for Georgene Louis, a five-term New Mexican state representative and a tribal citizen of the Acoma Pueblo, launched an ad on Monday to glean support for her run to fill the congressional seat vacated last week by Interior Secretary Debra Haaland, who made history last week when she was sworn in as the first Native American ever to serve as a presidential cabinet secretary.

Louis is so far the only Native American who has announced her candidacy for New Mexico's 1st congressional district, an area that’s largest voter base lives in Albuquerque, N.M. She joined three other Democrats who have announced their candidacy, including Rep. Melanie Stansbury and Senator Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, and Albuquerque attorney Randi McGinn. The filing deadline is April 6, according to New Mexico Secretary of State.

A special election will be held on June 1 to fill the vacant congressional seat. Early voting begins on May 15.

“We need to ensure that the values that (Haaland) reminds people about continue,” Louis told Native News Online earlier this year. “And we want to, again, make sure that Native Americans have a seat at the table and are able to share our voices.”

The minute and a half video connects Louis’ own story of perseverance against all odds to that of Native Americans’ stories everywhere.

Louis grew up on Acoma Pueblo, which sits about 40 minutes west of Albuquerque by car.

“Our tribe’s ancestral home has stood strong since time immemorial,” she said in the video. “It’s kept today as it was then. No running water, no electricity. But we had power. The power of community, culture, and clan.”

As young single mothers who worked their way through college and law school before eventually getting involved in politics, Louis and Haaland have similar stories.

“When I had my daughter at sixteen, they said I couldn’t be a lawyer,” Louis said in the ad. “That I’d be another statistic. They tell us single mothers don’t have power...They tell us—all of us—that if you grew up poor, if you don’t look a certain way, that you can never be in a position of power. But that’s not our story. Our story is about the power of the people.”

The special election is scheduled for June 1. Each of New Mexico’s major political parties may nominate a candidate to run in the special election. New Mexico's Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver encouraged New Mexicans within Congressional District 1 to vote in the special election to ensure legislative representation.

"We're already going to go 78 days without a member of congress for the congressional district, with that community not having a voice," Toulouse Oliver told a local news network. To register to vote, or to check your registration, click here.

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About The Author
Author: Jenna Kunze
Staff Writer
Jenna Kunze is a reporter for Native News Online and Tribal Business News. Kunze’s bylines have appeared in The Arctic Sounder, High Country News, Indian Country Today, Smithsonian Magazine and Anchorage Daily News. In 2020, she was one of 16 U.S. journalists selected by the Pulitzer Center to report on the effects of climate change in the Alaskan Arctic region. Prior to that, she served as lead reporter at the Chilkat Valley News in Haines, Alaska. Kunze is based in New York.