Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez defeats Valerie Plame in New Mexico primary
Attorney Teresa Leger Fernandez prevailed over former CIA operative Valerie Plame in the crowded Democratic primary for New Mexico’s 3rd District to replace Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.).
Leger Fernandez, a Yale and Stanford Law graduate, was leading with 37 percent of the vote, with 38 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press. Plame was running second with 23 percent of the vote in a primary that attracted six Democrats.
Leger Fernandez will be the favorite to win in November in the heavily Democratic district. The Republican race had not been called as of early Wednesday. Alexis Johnson, an oil and gas engineer and rancher, was leading in the primary with 38 percent of the vote.
Luján is giving up his House seat to run for Senate. He clinched the Democratic nomination for the upper chamber on Tuesday after running unopposed in the race to replaced Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.).
Plame and Leger Fernandez were considered the top contenders after leading the fundraising race in what’s turned out to be a crowded and expensive primary for the House seat.
Leger Fernandez was heavily backed by prominent members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Since its creation in 1982, New Mexico’s 3rd District has been a launching pad for its Democratic occupants.
Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson occupied the seat from 1983 to 1997, when he went on to become United Nations ambassador, a member of former President Clinton’s Cabinet, governor and eventually presidential candidate in 2008.
Plame was an undercover CIA officer who recommended sending her husband, the former diplomat Joe Wilson, to Niger to investigate Bush administration claims that then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase uranium for use in weapons production.
Plame, running for office for the first time, released an ad resembling a movie trailer during the race, making the case to New Mexico voters why she’s running for Congress as she drives a Chevy Camaro backwards. In the video she said her service was cut short after “my own government betrayed me.”
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