With Democrat Ben Ray Lujan, first elected to the Third Congressional District seat in 2008, vying to become one of New Mexico’s two U.S. senators after Tom Udall’s retirement, there’s action aplenty already. Lujan’s congressional seat has drawn many would-be successors, including Democrats John Blair, Teresa Leger Fernandez, Laura Montoya, Valerie Plame, Joseph Sanchez, Marco Serna and Kyle Tisdel.
Among Republicans in the June 2 primary are Karen Bedonie, Alexis Johnson, Harry Montoya and write-in candidate Angela Gale Morales. New Mexico’s Third District comprises Colfax, Curry, Harding, Los Alamos, Mora, Quay, Rio Arriba, San Juan, San Miguel, Taos and Union Counties along with areas of Bernalillo, McKinley, Roosevelt, Sandoval and Santa Fe Counties.
Information for the brief candidate profiles below primarily was drawn from the website of each.
John Blair “got a humble start in politics as a legislative correspondent for Senator Jeff Bingaman,” his campaign material explains. “Working alongside New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Edward Chávez, John witnessed the principles of justice and fairness firsthand. John continued his service by working with then-U.S. Representative Martin Heinrich. John is proud to have played a role in the fight to make healthcare more affordable and accessible, and in Senator Heinrich’s efforts to make it easier for Native Americans to buy homes on tribal lands. And he was New Mexico Deputy Secretary of State for Maggie Toulouse Oliver, who has been fighting to make it easier for New Mexicans to vote.” http://www.johnblairfornewmexico.com
Teresa Leger Fernandez, Yale undergrad, Stanford law degree, founded Leger Law and Strategy in 2013. “A public impact law firm with an entrepreneurial and social impact culture. Areas of expertise include: impact litigation, financing, tribal law, business development, leasing, policy development, civil rights, voting rights, and cultural preservation. Together with our of counsel attorneys, we also address environmental and sustainability issues. We bring a sense of strategic thinking and in depth experience (and joy) to all our work.”
Prior to that, she worked 24 years with Nordhaus Law Firm, “serving as general counsel to Native American sovereigns and their business and social development entities. Drafted and implemented a wide range of tribal and state laws and legislation, from taxation to voting rights.” http://www.teresaforall.com
Laura Montoya’s campaign points out that “I believe our country is at a crossroads and we need to get back to the basics. We need public servants who encourage love, fairness, and equality instead of hate and divisiveness. We should celebrate our similarities and respect our differences.”
Montoya was elected Sandoval County Treasurer in 2012. She has been a public servant for more than 17 years, having worked in several capacities in both the New Mexico House of Representatives and the New Mexico Senate. Montoya got her start in government in 2001, working for a ranking member of the N.M. Senate Finance Committee. Following that, she worked as a constituent services representative for U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman. “I challenge all the candidates, Democrat and Republican, who filed to run for Congress in the District 3 race to donate 10 percent of what they have in their campaign funds as of end of quarter to a New Mexico non-profit.” http://lauramontoya4nm. com
Valerie Plame emphasized “What sets me apart is my national security experience, my leadership experience, crisis management in the CIA. And look, it’s not something I asked for, but I do have national recognition, I have a national platform and national megaphone and I want to use that for the good of New Mexico.
“I want a brighter future for New Mexicans. Some of the issues I am determined to advance include lowering healthcare and prescription drug costs, protecting our clean air and water, ensuring voting and equal rights for all, combating gun violence and crime, building a brighter future for all our children and grandchildren through better public education, strengthening our economy, reducing poverty and homelessness.” https://valerieplameforcongress.com
Joseph Sanchez is The New Mexico State Representative for House District 40. He is a lifelong Democrat, and a 12th generation New Mexican from Alcalde. He “is committed to making sure the nation knows that New Mexico matters!”
Sanchez has over 20 years experience working at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Eight of those years were as an engineering manager where he helped oversee projects with budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars. He also managed the largest electric cooperative in the state of New Mexico, Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative, which serves five counties and over 30,000 meters. During this time he took the cooperative from near bankruptcy to the best financial position in its history. As an engineer with an MBA, he knows how to listen, and solve problems, his campaign asserts. http://www.josephsanchezforcongress.com
Marco Serna has served as a New Mexican Assistant Attorney General prosecuting Medicaid fraud and elder abuse, and also as an Assistant District Attorney in Valencia and Sandoval Counties where he prosecuted domestic violence and DWI misdemeanor offenses. He currently serves as First Judicial District Attorney in Santa Fe, Los Alamos and Rio Arribo Counties.
“Marco’s lifelong commitment to public service provides him with an understanding of the unique challenges facing our families. As First Judicial District Attorney, he has worked tirelessly to solve many of the problems facing our communities. From a treatment-oriented approach to our deeply entrenched drug problems, to cracking down on violent crimes, Marco has been on the front line defending and protecting our communities.” http://www.marcoforcongress.com
Kyle Tisdel is a public interest environmental attorney. His campaign said he has dedicated his career to “fighting for the environmental rights of people and communities in New Mexico and across the country. Currently, he directs the climate and energy program for a non-profit law firm from his office in Taos, New Mexico. His innovative work is at the nexus of public lands and fossil fuel exploitation, and he has achieved significant victories against the most environmentally reckless administration in American history, utilizing novel legal strategies to uphold climate science and to halt federal giveaways to the oil and gas industry.
“We are in a climate emergency, representing an existential threat to people across New Mexico, our country, and the entire planet. We need leaders in Congress who will make climate change a top priority, and recognize that the work we do to solve this crisis will help to bring greater equity and prosperity to all Americans.” http://www.tisdelforcongress.com
Karen Bedonie, a member of the Navajo Nation, states on her website that she is “an American. When my feet step outside my front door, I am a patriot chasing that American Dream just as freely as anyone else chooses. I fear no man, and when I see Old Glory in the wind, my heart knows that we are all equal, and this is the land of the free and the home of the brave…. I am here to help save our America from socialism, protect our rights, and fly our nation’s colors as freely and proudly as intended. With the strength of a Navajo woman and the heart of a patriot, and I shall lay my arms down never again.” http://www.karenbedonie.com
Alexis Johnson, an engineer who has worked in “the energy sector,” lives in Santa Fe, “and my family frequents Las Vegas, NM. Our family has cattle in Harding County. I was raised in Roswell and graduated high school in Las Cruces. Like so many N.M. families, I was reared by my grandparents. I went to college at Vanderbilt University and N.M. Tech. I graduated with an engineering degree in Socorro at N.M. Tech and have been married to my spouse, after college, and we have four beautiful children.” Her platform emphasizes economy, education, environment, entry into United States , and ensuring life. https://alexisjohnson nm.com
Harry Montoya is “running for Congress because I believe we need a conservative champion fighting for our future generations. I grew up here, I was educated here, and I became a counselor here to help New Mexicans suffering from addiction.” A former Democrat, Montoya founded Hands Across Cultures in Espanola, “with a mission to educate our youth on substance abuse prevention.” He currently is employed as constituent/legislative affairs director for the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department. His website states he offers “Bold Leadership: Christian. Conservative. Counselor.” https://harrymontoya.com
Angela Gale Morales of Rio Rancho will not be on the primary ballot. She appears to have no campaign website. Meanwhile, Lujan, aiming to fill Udall’s seat, has no challenger in the Democratic primary.
According to his website, he is “a passionate supporter of the Equality Act. Ben Ray believes that all individuals, regardless of how they identify or who they love, should be protected from discrimination under the law. Ben Ray has also worked to combat the opioid epidemic in New Mexico by securing millions of dollars in treatment, education, and prevention funds for rural communities plagued by addiction.”
“A staunch advocate of campaign finance reform, Ben Ray has refused to accept corporate PAC money for his U.S. Senate campaign. He is proud to be endorsed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, End Citizens United, and Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence.”
Lujan chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, “leading the Democratic effort in 2018 to take back the majority in the U.S. House while electing the most diverse and youngest Congress in history.” https://benraylujan.com