FILE – In this April 23, 2021, file photo, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland speaks during a news briefing at the White House in Washington. Haaland approved a new constitution for the Cherokee Nation on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 that ensures citizenship for descendants of Black people once enslaved by tribal citizens, known as Freedmen. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Originally published on June 1, 2021 8:28 am

Democrats in New Mexico are hoping to keep control of the House seat in the state’s 1st Congressional District when voters take to the polls Tuesday to fill the position vacated by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.

A recent opinion poll by the Republican elections blog RRH Elections shows Democrat Melanie Stansbury with a comfortable double-digit lead — 49% to 33% — over Republican opponent Mark Moores.

Both Stansbury and Moores serve in the state legislature.

Democratic congressional candidate Melanie Stansbury speaks during a campaign rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Thursday, May 27, 2021. She was joined by Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris. The trip marked Emhoff’s first on behalf of a candidate. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

The congressional seat has sat vacant since March, when Haaland, a Democrat, was confirmed as the first Native American to head the Department of the Interior.

While the central New Mexico district has historically favored Democratic candidates, Republicans are hoping an upset win can help them move closer to taking back the House majority in next year’s midterm elections. But the party faces steep odds in a district that President Biden won in November by 23 points.

Democrats currently hold a a razor-thin advantage of only eight seats in the House.

FILE – In this March 20, 2021, file photo, Republican state Sen. Mark Moores debates legislation in the final hours of a 60-day legislative session in Santa Fe, N.M. A special congressional election is underway for an Albuquerque-based seat dominated by Democrats since 2009. Early voting by absentee ballot begins Tuesday, May 4 as major party candidates participate in their first public debate.(AP Photo/Morgan Lee, File)

New Mexico is a state rich in natural resources and home to one of the nation’s largest Native American populations. Stansbury has called on her background in science to promote herself as a champion of the state’s land and water resources.

Moores, a third-generation state official, has sought to accuse Democrats of villainizing law enforcement, while emphasizing his support for lifting environmental regulations aimed at drilling for oil and gas.

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