Mr. Trump, she said, has shown hostility toward Native Americans, most publicly with his repeated use of the slur “Pocahontas” to describe Senator Elizabeth Warren, the prominent Democrat from Massachusetts. But it has also been demonstrated in policy, she said, with the administration’s recent contention, during a discussion of Medicaid benefits on tribal lands, that Native Americans should be considered as a racial category — a move that some tribes believe could impinge on their treaty rights as sovereign governments.
Ms. Haaland’s perspectives seem to have resonated with voters in the Albuquerque-area district, which was a Republican bastion for 40 years after its creation in 1969. The last Republican to hold the seat was Heather Wilson, who was replaced by a Democrat in 2009 and now serves as Mr. Trump’s secretary of the Air Force. Michelle Lujan Grisham, the Democrat currently representing the district, won the Democratic nomination for governor in Tuesday’s primary.
The race against Ms. Arnold-Jones, a conservative former state representative who ran unopposed in Tuesday’s primary, is expected to largely turn on issues such as immigration, gun laws, policies aimed at strengthening New Mexico’s weak economy, and criticism or support of Mr. Trump. The district has favored Democrats, giving Ms. Haaland a presumed edge, but Ms. Arnold-Jones is emphasizing her record promoting transparency in government in the State Legislature and her credentials as a former small-business owner and volunteer.
Ms. Haaland is benefiting from years in Democratic politics in New Mexico, running unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2014 and being elected as chairwoman of the state Democratic Party in 2015. A graduate of the University of New Mexico School of Law, she has been involved as an activist here for more than a decade, working to boost voter turnout.
Congress did not grant full citizenship or the right to vote to Native Americans until 1924, but allowed states to decide whether to expand such voting rights. New Mexico, where Native Americans now account for about 10.5 percent of the population, was the last state to enfranchise them, in 1962, according to the Library of Congress.
In recent years, a variety of factors, including increased revenue from casino gambling in Indian country, have begun to draw some Native American candidates more prominently into New Mexico’s political landscape.
But Ms. Haaland is not seen as a niche candidate. Political analysts here say her resounding win in the primary — she defeated the closest of five challengers by nearly 2 to 1 — involved cobbling together a coalition of liberal voters drawn to her support for issues such as gay rights, renewable energy projects and expansion of public health care.