Doug Emhoff campaigns with Democrat in New Mexico contest

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, campaigned Thursday with a Democratic congressional candidate in New Mexico, marking his first such trip on behalf of a candidate.

Emhoff appeared with Melanie Stansbury, the Democrat running in Tuesday’s special election for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District. The safe Democratic district came open after Rep. Deb Haaland became President Joe Biden's Interior Department secretary.

Emhoff told a crowd of labor union members and other supporters that Stansbury was a “serious public servant” who if elected could help get the Democrats’ jobs plan to the president’s desk. He and state Democratic Party officials acknowledged during the rally that Democrats hold a thin margin in Congress.

“It’s crunch time. Don’t look at the polls. Don’t look at anything. Act like we’re down. There’s a sense of urgency, right?” he said, as he pumped up the crowd and asked them to get their friends and family members to vote.

Biden recently endorsed Stansbury, noting her background as a state representative and scientist and declaring in a statement that “she has the grit and determination to deliver real results for all New Mexicans.”

Aside from this being Emhoff’s first campaign travel for a candidate, it’s one of his first forays into campaign politics for the Biden administration; the president and Harris have stayed away from political events since taking office. Emhoff, however, joined new Democratic National Committee chair Jaime Harrison for his first virtual fundraiser in March.

He is otherwise a prolific surrogate for the Biden administration, frequently traveling to sell the president’s COVID-19 relief plan and his infrastructure proposal to the American public.

Emhoff visited an Indigenous community in northern New Mexico earlier this year as part of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. On Thursday, he again touted vaccines.

Republican candidate and state Sen. Mark Moores in a statement described Emhoff’s latest visit as a photo opportunity, saying that he should have instead visited with local law enforcement about persisent crime in the heart of the district and should have talked with the families of victims.

Emhoff was scheduled to stop by an early voting location Friday to wrap up his campaign swing for Stansbury.

Despite Democratic voters outnumbering Republicans 2-to-1 in the district, which covers New Mexico's most populated area, Stansbury said the race is being watched closely and that “everything is on the line." She reiterated campaign promises to address poverty and homelessness and push for a living wage.

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Jaffe reported from Washington.