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Indianz.Com Video: ‘Culture. Clan. Community’: Georgene Louis for Congress
Native candidate vows to continue work of Pueblo ‘sister’ Deb Haaland
Tuesday, March 30, 2021

On the evening of March 30, 2021, the New Mexico Democratic Party announced the results of an internal election for the 1st Congressional District ballot. Georgene Louis placed sixth out of a field of eight candidates so she will not advance further in the process.

A Pueblo woman and New Mexico state representative is seeking to fill the Congressional seat left vacant by Deb Haaland, whose nomination to become Secretary of the Interior was approved by the U.S. Senate on March 15.

Georgene Louis, a citizen of the Pueblo of Acoma, is a five-term state representative, an attorney and the general counsel for the Pueblo of Tesuque. She is one of six Democrats seeking the New Mexico Democratic Party’s nomination to appear on the ballot for a June 1 special election to fill the District 1 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“In Congress, I’ll continue to reach across the aisle to make progress on behalf of all New Mexicans,” Louis said Tuesday during a press conference. “As your next congresswoman, I’ll work to build off everything that my Pueblo sister Deb Haaland started. I’ll fight tirelessly to represent our tribal communities and our tribes with honor.”

The other Democratic candidates vying for the seat are: state Reps. Patricia Roybal Caballero, Melanie Stansbury and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, as well as attorney Randi McGinn and Victor Reyes, legislative director for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

At least one other Democratic candidate, Caballero, claims Native heritage. Her website says the lineage of her father’s family can be traced to the Piro-Manso-Tiwa Tribe of San Juan de Guadalupe Pueblo.

The Democratic nominee for the seat, which represents a heavily Democratic district, will face the Republican Party’s nominee, Mark Moore, a state senator, as well as two independent candidates, Laura Olivas and Aubrey Dunn, former state public lands commissioner.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Louis touted her work in the New Mexico House of Representatives, where she currently serves as the chair of the Committee on State Government, Elections and Indian Affairs. During the 2021 legislative session, Louis sponsored the New Mexico Civil Rights Act and co-sponsored a bill to repeal the abortion ban.

More than 120 tribes, individually or through tribal organizations, have endorsed Louis, including the Coalition of Large Tribes and the Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes. And this week, the All Pueblo Council of Governors endorsed Louis and called upon the state’s Democratic Party to nominate a Native candidate to fill the congressional seat.

“Rep. Louis has a proven track record for sound leadership with exceptional credentials and distinction in the New Mexico House of Representatives,” said APCG Chairman Wilfred Herrera Jr. in a statement. “She has earned the trust of her constituents and championed meaningful and progressive legislation that has helped New Mexico families and its Indigenous population.”

Louis said she learned about the need to work hard from her parents.

“My family didn’t have much, but my parents always worked hard and provided for our family,” she said. “I was raised with three core values: culture, clan, and community.”

“So when I found myself pregnant at 16, I knew that my chances of succeeding needed to be tied to those three core values.”

She earned her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of New Mexico, where she has taught as an adjunct professor. She said she earned her degrees while raising her daughter as a single mother.

“I was going to school, raising my daughter, all at the same time, really to ensure that I would be able to offer a great life for my daughter and really succeed in my goals,” she said.

She said she sought public office first in 2012 in order to give Native people in New Mexico a voice in state government.

“I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to prove myself as an effective legislator,” she said.

If selected to fill Haaland’s seat and later elected to the position, Louis said she would work across the aisle with U.S. House Republicans to ensure her constituents are well-represented and included in all legislation being considered. She said she would seek to expand access to affordable healthcare for all New Mexicans and work to champion environmental safeguards.

Louis said she would work with stakeholders to begin making the shift to renewable energy and reduce the country’s dependence on non-renewable sources of energy.

She said she would also seek to ensure tribes are included in any legislation that provides resources to communities to help them address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. She credited Haaland with ensuring tribes weren’t left out of federal COVID-19 funding legislation.

“I am really scared to think of what might have occurred if Deb Haaland was not sitting in Congress,” she said. “She was a fierce voice to ensure that tribes were included in COVID-19 recovery and the funding going out to state governments, local governments and tribes.”

And Louis criticized the Republicans’ nominee to the District 1 seat, state Sen. Mark Moore, saying he opposed both her efforts to repeal the abortion ban and gain approval for the New Mexico Civil Rights Act.

“I respect him as a person. His politics and his positions are something different,” she said. “I think New Mexicans want someone that reflects their values and their goals, and I think we’ll see that in the June 1st election that I can assist in getting people out to vote and get people excited about keeping the position in the hands of a Democrat.”

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‘Culture. Clan. Community’: Georgene Louis for Congress (March 30, 2021)
Tribes endorse Georgene Louis in bid for Deb Haaland’s seat in Congress (March 3, 2021)