Aliyah Chavez
Indian Country Today

New Mexico state Rep. Georgene Louis, Acoma Pueblo, announced her candidacy Monday to run as a Democrat in the state’s 1st Congressional District. Louis hopes to fill the seat of Rep. Deb Haaland, who will vacate the office if confirmed by the Senate as the next Interior secretary.

Louis is the first Native person to officially announce their candidacy for the seat so far.

(Related: What happens to Deb Haaland’s House seat?)

She is an attorney and currently serves in her fifth term as a state representative. Louis is believed to be the first Pueblo woman ever elected to New Mexico’s Legislature.

The state representative says she was spurred to run in hopes of continuing Haaland’s work in Congress.

“I want to prove that what happened with Representative Haaland is not a fluke,” Louis told Indian Country Today. “Native Americans can run for office. We can show our strengths and demonstrate our experiences, and our education and bring that to the table and fight for our constituents.”

New Mexico State Rep. Georgene Louis, Acoma Pueblo, announced her candidacy for Congress on Jan. 4. (Photo courtesy of Louis for Congress campaign)

Louis says she has been in contact with Haaland, particularly when choosing to run for the office, saying Haaland’s “opinion is very important to me knowing that she’s experienced running a campaign before.”

Louis adds her name next to two other candidates including state Representative Melanie Stansbury and state Senator Antoinette Sedillo Lopez.

New Mexico’s major parties including the Democratic, Independent and Republican parties will likely hold internal elections to choose their candidates this spring.

The parties will name their candidates at least 56 days before the special election date and candidates will officially campaign until a special election is held — likely in April.

Louis says her track record working in the state’s legislature has included supporting public education, labor, environmental justice and women’s rights.

“I feel like my lived experience reflects those of many New Mexicans. I am a person of color, I am a woman,” Louis said. “I raised my daughter as a single parent so I understand the social and economic hardships that people face.”

Many are already sharing their support on her Facebook page — and say more Pueblo women are needed in public office.

Two supporters wrote: “Yay!!!! We were hoping you would run. You have our support. We can do bake sales and Indian Taco sales, just say the word!!”

Another said, “Wow! Great news. Pueblo woman replacing Pueblo woman is the right thing to do. Best of luck!”

Nearly two weeks ago, Republican Elisa Martinez, Diné and Zuni Pueblo, said she was considering a run in a statement on Twitter.

Louis serves as the chair of the House State Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee. She is also a member of the House Judiciary and Rules and Order of Business Committees. 

Louis holds a law degree from the University of New Mexico. She is a mother and grandmother. 

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Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter: @aliyahjchavez or email her at achavez@indiancountrytoday.com.

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