Deb Haaland

Deb Haaland, an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe, won the Democratic primary in the first congressional district of New Mexico Tuesday night, clearing her path to become the nation’s first Native American congresswoman.

Haaland will face Republican Janice Arnold-Jones in November for the seat that is considered to be very solidly Democratic. The House seat is open because its current occupant, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), is running for governor.

“Tonight, New Mexico made history,” Haaland said in a speech on Tuesday. “I thank the thousands of volunteers and grassroots supporters who won this election today. No candidate ever wins anything on their own and it’s thanks to you that I am standing here.

“Our win is a victory for working people, for women … a victory for Indian country,” she added, “and a victory for everyone who has been sidelined by the billionaire class.”

Haaland is a single mother from Albuquerque. She chaired New Mexico’s Democratic Party from 2015 to 2017 and was the Native American vote director for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2012.