Teresa Leger Fernandez will take with her to Washington, D.C., the experiences of a life spent helping the people of Northern New Mexico — whether bringing federal dollars to tribal communities to install broadband, helping a community stop a mine or assisting acequia parcientes in keeping their water rights out of the hands of developers.
She excels at fighting and winning battles, a characteristic New Mexicans will need in their representative from the 3rd Congressional District. As a former White House fellow and advocate for tribal clients, she has navigated, as she puts it so well, “the Washington that matters to New Mexico.”
She has flipped burgers at the Villanueva rodeo, cleaned ditches with her neighbors each spring and graduated from West Las Vegas High School without much of a plan except to move somewhere out of state for college. She worked a year before applying and ended up heading to Yale — and yes, it wasn’t easy, with legacy students leaving notes on her door asking why she thought “a Mexican” belonged there. She didn’t quit.
But Leger Fernandez learned an important lesson at Yale — to ignore other people’s prejudices, to work hard, and most of all, to ask for help. She graduated and continued on to Stanford Law School. And once again, she succeeded, returning to New Mexico as an attorney to spend the past two decades taking on the important issues of our day.
It is that life trajectory of accomplishment and excellence that demonstrates why Leger Fernandez is the representative the district deserves right now — high achievement at every level of her life with a focus on helping communities reach their goals. She supports better health care access and reduced prescription prices, will work to move the nation to clean, renewable energy and supports the right of women to control their health care decisions. She took on the lawsuit that brought ranked-choice voting to Santa Fe, a significant contribution to democracy in our town. She is familiar with her far-flung district — urban Santa Fe, ranches, farms and tribal communities — not from a campaign stop but from a life of service right here at home.
This ability to represent Northern New Mexico has been honed over decades — learning to preserve what matters. In a talented field of candidates seeking to succeed U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján in Congress, Leger Fernandez stands out. So does Valerie Plame, the ex-CIA covert operative who chose Santa Fe as the place to live and raise her children; she is another outstanding candidate with much to offer. In the Democratic primary for the 3rd Congressional District, The New Mexican endorses Teresa Leger Fernandez.
u 3rd Congressional District, Republican: Harry Montoya, both a former Democrat and onetime Santa Fe County commissioner, understands Northern New Mexico and could represent its issues well in Congress. For Republicans, reaching across to new sorts of voters is essential for future successes, in New Mexico and the country. Disaffected, conservative Hispanics are voters who could help the party make inroads in Democratic strongholds. Montoya’s more compassionate approach to the hot-button immigration issue — focusing on the humanity of all people and the broken system — is one that might not appeal to a rabid GOP base but could bring the party more votes in a statewide competition. In the Republican primary for the 3rd Congressional District, The New Mexican endorses Harry Montoya.
u U.S. Senate, Democratic: U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján is running unopposed. He has done a good job in the House, rising to the top in leadership while keeping the interests of New Mexico in the forefront.
u U.S. Senate, Republican: Former TV weatherman Mark Ronchetti likely will win this primary, despite having to explain to Republicans why he believes in climate change and was recorded criticizing President Donald Trump. He is the best-known and has the most money. But winning statewide in a general election will take more than a familiar name who has won the nomination by pledging allegiance to Trump. That’s why, if primary voters want to turn expectations around, they might look in a different direction. Elisa Martinez, a longtime anti-abortion rights activist, is a pro-business, individual freedom-loving champion of the Second Amendment. An enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, she brings a diversity of background and life experiences to a Republican Party that is trending older, male and whiter. In the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, The New Mexican endorses Elisa Martinez.
President: In the GOP primary, Donald Trump has no opponents, while over on the Democratic side, there are a slew of candidates. Former Vice President Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee, meaning once again New Mexico’s late primary leaves our state’s voters with little choice in selecting their party’s presidential candidate. Biden will bring a wealth of experience, knowledge and a fondness for hard work to the Oval Office. However, for the purposes of influencing the party platform, New Mexico voters might vote for the candidate they loved in the primary, not simply the one who will be the nominee.