Rising crime and funding police push are key issues in House special elections
Taking a page from a Republican playbook that resulted in unexpected victories in the legislative election last November, GOP candidate Mark Moores is focusing much of his campaign on Tuesday’s special election for a vacant congressional seat in New Mexico following an upsurge in crime and pressure from some on the left to “define the police”.
The first congressional district of New Mexico, in the central part of the state, comprises about three-quarters of the Albuquerque, the largest city in the state, which, like other urban areas in the country, has experienced an upsurge in crime.
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Moores focuses on this, while highlighting Representative State Democratic candidate Melanie Stansbury’s initial support for the BREATHE Act, a sweeping campaign for police reform drafted by activists allied with the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Rampant crime, drug violence, record number of homicides in Albuquerque this year. It has never been more dangerous. Melanie Stanbury’s plan – to support legislation that diffuses police,” the narrator accuses in a recent Moores advertisement which Stansbury disputes.
It’s not just his ads. Moores repeatedly shines the spotlight on crime and the BREATHE Act as he campaigns across the district. And the Sunday GOP state tweeted “Keep New Mexico Safe! Vote for Republican Mark Moores! “
During a debate earlier this month, Moores accused “the crime is out of hand… it must stop. And, quite frankly, my opponent in the race is part of the problem.”
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Stansbury appeared to fend off the Moores attack during the debate and did not directly refer to BREATHE ACT, which would bring sweeping changes to the criminal justice system.
“To solve Albuquerque’s crime problem, we need to invest in public safety,” Stansbury replied. “We need to reform the police services in the city and we need to invest in the underlying causes of crime like drug addiction and behavioral health.”
And she presents her case as the state representative on the resumption of the coronavirus pandemic encouraged by President Biden, underscoring her commitment to working with the president and his administration.
Moores, Stansbury, a Libertarian Party candidate and an independent candidate, are all in the running to succeed Democrat Deb Haaland, who resigned her seat in Congress earlier this year after being confirmed as Cabinet Home Secretary from President Biden.
The neighborhood is solidly blue, and Democrats have controlled the siege for a dozen years. Haaland was re-elected last November with 16 points and Biden won the district by 23 points over then-President Donald Trump.
Local observers say Stansbury enjoys a substantial advantage over Moores in the two-week early voting, which ended on Saturday. And Stansbury drastically overtook Moores and spent twice as much on running ads.
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New Mexico Democratic Party President Jessica Velasquez argued that “Moores has been forced to rely on fear and lies to motivate his supporters because he knows he can’t run on his extremist dossier. Moores is disconnected and anti-worker. , and anti-women positions don’t reflect the values of New Mexicans, so he tries to divert attention from conversations to the issues that matter most to voters. ”
And Congressional Democratic Campaign Committee spokesman Chris Taylor told Fox News that “Congressional Democrats just provided $ 350 billion in new funding to state and local governments as part of the bailout. American who supports police services across the country. “
And he pointed out that Congressional Democrats “are advocating for critical reforms that increase both community safety and accountability in departments. Compare that with House Republicans who voted against the US bailout and the Jan. 6 Commission, which reportedly investigated the violent insurgency that injured several officers and led to death. ”
But the focus on increasing crime and the push to “fund the police” has proven effective for Republicans in some 2020 House races.
The GOP controlled the House for eight years before losing a majority in the House midway through 2018 amid a wave of House Democrats. But as Republicans lost the White House and their Senate majority in the 2020 contests, in the battle for the House, they defied expectations and took a big chunk of the Democrats’ majority in the November election and currently only need a net gain of five seats in 2022 to regain control of the chamber.
A recent “deep dive” into the 2020 election compiled by House Democrats blamed effective messages from House Republicans who focused on the far left “defund the police” movement, as well as bad polls that underestimated the turnout of supporters of then-President Trump, for the party’s disappointing performance in the legislative elections last November.
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“Chickens are coming home to roost on police funding policy. By their own admission, this was one of the main reasons Democrats in battlefield districts fell behind the year. last, “veteran Republican strategist Colin Reed told Fox News.
Reed pointed out that “with the rise of crime and violence across America, the problem has shifted from esoteric debate to tangible politics with real consequences. Even in the deep blue of New York City, the top candidates for the next mayor are all running explicitly on an anti-fundraising platform. “
After suffering an electoral setback in early May in a special congressional election in Texas and defending their slim majority in the House of Representatives, Democrats are taking no chances in the New Mexico contest this time around.
While the Congressional Republican National Committee, House GOP reelection arm, and pro-Republican outside groups have remained on the sidelines of this showdown in the solidly Blue District, the rival Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has injected a quantity modest resources in the race.
Democrats seem to take nothing for granted. Second man Doug Emhoff traveled to New Mexico on Thursday to campaign for two days with Stansbury, and earlier in the week Biden released a statement endorsing his party’s candidate.
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But Moores ‘and Republicans’ focus on crime and the “defund” movement could be a sign of things to come in next year’s midterm elections.
“Off-year elections are an early indicator of where the national winds are blowing. Democrats in DC would be wise to take note, or pay a hefty price halfway through,” Reed warned.