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Biden stumps for New Mexico Democrats amid a few close, key races

President Joe Biden attended a rally with New Mexico Democrats, including Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (left), on Nov. 3, 2022, ahead of Tuesday's general election.
Gino Gutierrez
President Joe Biden attended a rally with New Mexico Democrats, including Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (left), on Nov. 3, 2022, ahead of Tuesday's general election.

President Joe Biden attended a rally with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham hosted by the New Mexico Democratic Party in a South Valley community center in Albuquerque Thursday ahead of Election Day. The location, at the Ted M. Gallegos Community Centerin the newly-redrawn Congressional District 2, wasn’t arbitrary.

The event was billed as an opportunity for candidates and the President to “highlight the choice voters will face in November.” While speakers, including U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, called on the Democrats in attendance to vote blue up and down the ballot, the event highlighted two important NM races: the governor and Congressional District 2.

The southern 2nd district was solidly GOP until the Democratic-controlled legislature redrew it last year to include Albuquerque’s Democratic-leaning, heavily Hispanic South Valley, where the rally was held. In an April ruling, a judge found Republicans made a strong case that the map was politically gerrymandered. The state Supreme Court will take up the case in January.

With a close race between Democratic candidate Gabe Vasquez and Republican incumbent Yvette Herrell, turnout of the district’s Democratic voters is crucial.

Gov. Lujan Grisham, whose own race against Republican challenger Mark Ronchetti has been polling tighter and tighter as Election Day approaches, said “showing up is key.”

“We’re a little behind. We catch up fast,” she told the crowd. “Are you ready to catch up fast? Are you ready to get Gabe Vazquez elected? Are we going to get our Democrats up and down the ballot elected up and down the ballot statewide? And are you going to show up to make sure the shortest governor in America gets returned?” The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the governor stands at four-foot-10 inches.

Lujan Grisham said she’s benefited from having Biden as “a partner” in the White House. The president visited the state during the massive fire in northern New Mexico this summer and amended the disaster declaration to cover 100% of recovery costs.

“And then he worked with our members of Congress,” said Lujan Grisham. “Only the Democrats from New Mexico — I want you to wrap your head around that — to provide $2.5 billion to rebuild the lives of 30,000 New Mexicans.”

U.S. Rep. Herrell sided with her fellow Republicans in voting against the spending bill.

Biden in turn acknowledged Lujan Grisham as a partner at the state level on his initiatives, like the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

“Billions of dollars are coming for infrastructure here in this state,” he said. “And she’s going to make sure it’s getting out the door right away.”

He also highlighted her initiatives to strengthen gun laws and protect abortion access. The President said last month that, if Democrats hold a majority in both houses of congress after the midterms, he’ll push to codify protections for the procedure. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham told KUNM that, if re-elected, she would push to do the same on the state level. Biden praised Rep. Melanie Stansbury and said New Mexico has a chance to be a part of increasing the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives by electing Vasquez.

“Between the two of them, I badly need their votes in Congress,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Biden stopped at Central New Mexico Community College to tout his administration's student debt forgiveness program and highlight New Mexico's historic Opportunity Scholarship alongside the governor, which aims to cover all tuition and fees for eligible students.

NPR reports Biden’s visit to New Mexico is the first stop on a final campaign swing. The President is expected to head to California next, before meeting former President Barack Obama in Pennsylvania.

The Your New Mexico Government project is a collaboration between KUNM and New Mexico PBS with support from the Thornburg Foundation.

Nash Jones (they/them) is a general assignment reporter in the KUNM newsroom and the local host of NPR's All Things Considered (weekdays on KUNM, 5-7 p.m. MT). You can reach them at nashjones@kunm.org or on Twitter @nashjonesradio.
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