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.
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. 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.
And on November 3, 2020, Harold Pope, Jr. earned 52% of the vote. He will be sworn into the State Senate in January 2021 and will be a key vote for progressive values.
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