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Aliyah Chavez
Indian Country Today

With President-elect Joe Biden selecting U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland as his Interior secretary, many are wondering: What will happen to her position in the U.S. House?

First, Haaland, Pueblos of Laguna and Jemez, will look to be approved as secretary of the Interior through a Senate confirmation hearing. Those hearings are likely to happen in January, with some leaders who could be in position to assume office on Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, Politico reports. If a majority of the Senate chooses to confirm her to office, she will be sworn in to lead the department.

If Haaland is confirmed, she will then formally submit a vacancy with the state of New Mexico saying she is officially resigning from her role as a U.S. representative.

Within 10 days after this, the secretary of state will set a date for a special election that will aim to fill her House seat. The election must be between 77 and 91 days after her vacancy, which could put the special election day anywhere from April 6 to April 21.

(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Indian Country Today)

Which candidates will run for this special election? It is hard to say now.

Every candidate hoping to run for her position will have to be over 25 years old and reside in the state’s 1st Congressional District, which includes Albuquerque, the state’s largest city.

Each major political party in New Mexico will elect their own nominees based on their party’s rules.

They will then choose one candidate to formally endorse, usually through an in-party election. Next, each party’s chosen candidate will campaign until election day.

The special election will be held like a general election and will include opportunities for early and absentee voting.

Following news of Haaland’s selection, the All Pueblo Council of Governors, a body collectively representing New Mexico’s 19 Pueblo Nations, said it hopes the seat will be filled by a Native person.

“We believe that the State of New Mexico and Congressional District 1 would best be served by ensuring that another strong Native American is elected to take Congresswoman Haaland’s seat,” said APCG Secretary David Toledo, who also serves as governor of Jemez Pueblo. 

'I'll be fierce for all of us'
— 'Happy tears’: Indian Country cheers Interior pick

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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

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