GOP House hopeful puts rising crime center stage in special election campaign

The issue of criminal justice reform is taking center stage in a special election out of New Mexico, where a Republican House hopeful is looking to make a recent uptick in crime — and efforts by progressives to “defund” the police — the focus of his campaign, Fox News reports.

Republican Mark Moores aims to clinch a seat in the U.S. House representing New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, which comprises much of Albuquerque, according to Fox. Facing off against Moores is current New Mexico Democratic state Rep. Melanie Stansbury.

The special election will be held Tuesday to fill the seat vacated by Deb Haaland, who now serves as President Joe Biden’s secretary of the interior.

“Part of the problem”

As Fox notes, the race is an uphill battle for Moores. But he’s hoping that honing in on crime amid a surge of violence in the local community will help carry him to victory.

Moores’ sales pitch has been that Stansbury’s policies would only exacerbate the problem. In a recent ad, Moores highlighted the fact that Stansbury supports the BREATHE Act, a progressive police reform bill first proposed by Democrat Reps. Rashida Tlaib (MI) and Ayanna Pressley (MA).

“Rampant crime, drug violence, a record number of homicides in Albuquerque this year,” Moore’s ad states, according to Fox. “It’s never been more dangerous. Melanie Stanbury’s plan — supporting legislation that defunds the police.”

The Republican also said at a recent debate that “crime is out of control… And, quite frankly, my opponent in the race is part of the problem,” he argued, according to Fox.

The New Mexico Democratic Party has reportedly charged that Moores is “fearmongering” and spreading “falsehoods.”

Looking ahead

Looking ahead, there’s no doubt that Moores is the underdog in this race. He’s competing for a deeply blue district that Haaland easily won by 16 points in November 2020. Biden also beat out former President Donald Trump in the district by 23 points.

Moores’ hope is that the issue of crime could give him a chance — and he may not be the only Republican banking on that as the 2022 midterms draw closer.

The Washington Examiner reported just last week that “[a] rise in violent crime is endangering slim Democratic congressional majorities more than a year out from the midterm elections and threatening to revive ‘law and order’ as a major campaign issue for Republicans for the first time since the 1990s.”

Only time will tell if the strategy pays off for the GOP.

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