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Capitol Siege, Immigration Issues Mark Congressional Debate

(This April 30, 2021 image shows state Rep. Melanie Stansbury at a news conference about erasing a backlog in untested rape evidence kits in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Stansbury, a Democrat, is among the candidates vying for an open congressional seat in New Mexico. AP Photo: Susan Montoya Bryan)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP):- Republican congressional candidate Mark Moores went on the attack against a Democratic opponent in a final pair of network television debates ahead of the June 1 election to fill an open seat based in the Albuquerque area.

Moores, a state senator, on Monday denounced a “radical agenda” from Democratic congressional nominee Melanie Stansbury on immigration, policing, the minimum wage and more.

Stansbury, a representative in the state House since 2019, rarely engaged in direct retorts as she defended her support for a $15 minimum wage, reforms to address police misconduct and systemic racism, and a more humanitarian approach to immigration.

In his only televised debate opportunity, independent congressional candidate and former state Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn Jr. used a separate Sunday debate to cast himself as an alternative to partisan bickering who refuses to be a “Trump teddy bear” or a “puppet” of President Joe Biden.

Dunn highlighted his support for gun rights, the need for more vocational training opportunities, and support for federal legislation to end police immunity from prosecution.

Four candidates have their names on the ballot for the 1st Congressional District post to succeed Deb Haaland after her departure from Congress to lead the Department of the Interior. Early voting by absentee voting is underway for the seat held by Democrats since 2009.

Libertarian nominee Chris Manning also is pursuing election in the 1st Congressional District.

Moores and Stansbury — the only candidates in Monday night’s debate on KRQE — outlined stark differences in their approaches to the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, student debt forgiveness and accountability for people involved in the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol.

Stansbury said she wouldn’t support a single dollar of spending on the border wall project initiated by former President Donald Trump and would seek out more effective use of border patrols and technology. Moores repeated the refrain that America cannot survive if its borders are not secure.

A University of New Mexico graduate who received a football scholarship, Moores said college education already is financially accessible in New Mexico and that people who go to private college beyond should pay off their own student loans.

“Now you expect somebody else to pay off that debt? That’s un-American,” Moores said.

Stansbury said she supports universal access to free college and student debt forgiveness proposals.

Pressed by a debate moderator on whether Trump bears responsibility for the storming of the U.S. Capitol in January, Moores said that “the rhetoric has been out of control for all, for many of us, including the president, the former president, including Ms. Stansbury.”

Stansbury described the Capitol siege as an insurrection incited by Trump.

“It is critical that we send a congressperson to Washington that believes in transparency, accountability and ensuring that those who are responsible for a siege on our Capitol are held accountable,” she said.

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