BY TOM WRIGHT
The race is on for Democrats to replace Ben Ray Lujan in the CD3, which takes in all of northern New Mexico and Quay and Curry Counties in eastern New Mexico. The Democrat Primary has fielded eight candidates who have raised a record total of $4,707,002 as per currently published figures from the Federal Election Commission.
The Republicans have fielded five candidates who raised a total of $108,235.
Why is this House District so valuable to Democrats? It has been held by them since 1982, with the exception of one special election when Republican Bill Redmond won the district when then Representative Bill Richardson was appointed our Ambassador to the United Nations. It is also the district that holds New Mexico’s capital city, Santa Fe.
The campaign funds raised by the Democrat candidates have come largely from outside the state. Valerie Plame has raised the most among the field with receipts of over $2 Million and disbursements of $1.7 Million, with most of her donations coming from outside New Mexico.
Conversely, the Republican candidates have much smaller war chests, but their funding comes mostly from New Mexicans.
Traditionally, northern New Mexicans have voted Democrats into office, but this last election we saw a split in the Democrat Party between the centrist and the progressives, with progressives winning the governorship, two congressional seats and several state legislative seats. Democrat Senator John Arthur Smith of Deming and Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee is a primary target of his party. He has traditionally called for fiscal responsibility which progressives can’t understand and they are attempting to defeat him.
All of the Democrat candidates in the CD3 race are progressives and the pre-Primary Convention choice, Teresa Leger Fernandez has been accused by her competitors as bringing dark money in the race from groups attacking them. They had agreed not to encourage dark money, but that’s politics.
Harry Montoya is the Republican pre-Primary choice in the race who campaigns on his record and has disbursements of $14,881. Yet, Montoya expects to win the primary and is determined to defeat his Democrat opponent with his experience and local support. He has been married to his wife Doris for 40 years and has made a life of community service through his fraternal organization, the Knights of Columbus as well as serving as an elected member of the Santa Fe County Commission and the Española Public School District.
Being well known in the district, he has been endorsed over the other Republican candidates in the primary election by the Santa Fe New Mexican, Albuquerque Journal and Taos News, as well as former Congressman Bill Redmond (CD3) and a host of pastors and politicians.
Harry describes himself as a pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, and pro-religious freedom conservative Republican who left the Democrat party last year because he said it had radically changed. It is because of the new, radical direction Democrats have taken that he feels he best represents the traditional values of all of northern New Mexico and not those who have brought outside money and influence into Santa Fe’s politics.
He has dedicated his entire life to helping those who suffer from substance abuse and he founded Hands Across Cultures with a mission to educate our youth on substance abuse prevention. He is an internationally recognized expert on addiction and has served in Argentina and Mexico on assignments from the U.S. State and Commerce Departments to help them organize substance abuse programs. He took a leave to run for Congress from CYFD where he worked as the Constituent/Legislative Affairs Director.
Editor’s note: Tom Wright is a political commentator and lives in Santa Fe.