Harold Pope Jr.


First African-American New Mexico State Senator

Harold Pope, Jr. beat a three-term incumbent State Senator to become the first African-American State Senator in New Mexico’s history.

The Challenge: Make History, And Preserve New Mexicans’ Freedom to Decide. In 2020, military veteran, scientist, and educator, Harold Pope, Jr., decided to enter the race to defeat three-term Republican State Senator Sander Rue in the 23rd New Mexico State Senate District. Rue was a key vote in the 2019 state legislative session to retain an abortion ban in the New Mexico state statutes. By defeating Rue, Pope could make history twice–being the first African-American State Senator elected in New Mexico and be a key vote in ensuring reproductive freedom.

The race would be challenging. The incumbent had served for twelve years. And conventional wisdom was that an African-American could not win in a district with significant exurban and rural portions within it, especially given the state’s overall African-American population was less than 3%. But the campaign team, which included Foundation Blue Media, believed once the voters got to know Harold, they would know that he best fit the district.


Our Solution: Introduce Harold Through Integrated Earned and Paid Media. By heavily emphasizing Harold’s veteran and service background early and often through integrated owned, earned, and paid media, voters recognized the leadership capabilities that Harold could bring to the State Senate.


The Result: A Victory for Freedom. On November 3, 2020, Harold Pope, Jr. earned 52% of the vote. And more broadly, Foundation Blue Media’s digital program for the New Mexico State Senate Caucus helped the Caucus gain the additional seat needed to finally pass progressive legislation, including rescission of the abortion ban.

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