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Hispanic Caucus makes major ad buy for New Mexico Democratic candidate for House

Hispanic Caucus makes major ad buy for New Mexico Democratic candidate for House
© Greg Nash

The Hispanic Caucus is making a major ad purchase on behalf of a local lawyer and activist running in the Democratic primary for an open House seat in New Mexico, which is currently filled by departing Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.).

Bold PAC — the campaign arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) — invested $425,000 in an ad campaign for Teresa Leger Fernández, who on June 2 will face off in a primary against six other Democrats in the race for New Mexico's 3rd District.

The ad campaign represents a substantial portion of the $2.5 million the committee has so far allocated to such expenditures this cycle.

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Bold PAC Chairman Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) told The Hill that supporting candidates like Leger Fernández "is the reason why Bold PAC exists."

"It's a dream come true to see us be able to support these amazing American citizens who happen to be Latinos or Latinas," said Cárdenas.

Cárdenas said candidates like Leger Fernández, who was born and raised in the district and returned to live there after completing her education at Yale and Stanford, were often overlooked before the CHC built up its campaign arm.

"Unfortunately the Latino community didn't have the resources to stand with and support these amazing Latino and Latina candidates," said Cárdenas.

Bold PAC was founded in 2001, but has grown substantially under Cárdenas and his predecessor, Luján, whose seat Leger Fernández is competing for.

Luján is seen as the front-runner in the race to fill retiring Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Judge tosses land management plans after ousting Pendley from role | Trump says he could out-raise Biden with calls to Wall Street, oil execs | Supreme Court to review Trump border wall funding, asylum policies OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Pendley says court decision ousting him from BLM has had 'no impact' | Court strikes down Obama-era rule targeting methane leaks from public lands drilling | Feds sued over no longer allowing polluters to pay for environmental projects  Pendley says court decision ousting him from BLM has had 'no impact' MORE's (D) seat. Luján headed Bold PAC and was chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). He also serves as assistant Speaker of the House.

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The race for Luján's seat will pit Leger Fernández against Valerie Plame, a nationally-known progressive and former CIA agent.

Plame and Leger Fernández are leading the fundraising race in what's turned out to be a crowded and expensive primary for the House seat.

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 presidential candidate in 2008.

Udall also held the seat before moving on to the Senate.

Cárdenas said he hopes to see Leger Fernández fill the post because she knows the local community.

"These are things you do not for money, but when you care about people who have suffered abuse and neglect," said Cárdenas.

Leger, a lawyer, has worked in tribal affairs and is a vice chair of the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF), a civil rights organization.

Leger Fernández was endorsed Thursday by Rep. Deb HaalandDebra HaalandHispanic caucus report takes stock of accomplishments with eye toward 2021 Rep. Robin Kelly enters race for Democratic caucus vice chair OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats push resolution to battle climate change, sluggish economy and racial injustice | Senators reach compromise on greenhouse gas amendment stalling energy bill | Trump courts Florida voters with offshore drilling moratorium MORE (D-N.M.), one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress.

Cárdenas said candidates like Plame, who moved to Santa Fe in 2006 after being publicly outed as a CIA agent, undermine representation of minority communities.

"Valerie is a perfect example of someone who's better known outside the district," he said.

The Plame campaign did not return a request for comment on this story.

"This has been the politics forever. Communities of color, the poor side of town, what have you, tend to have to struggle to represent itself with people from the community because too many opportunists [move in]," said Cárdenas.

"It's our job to support amazing candidates, but it's also our job to enlist the attention of our colleagues who otherwise wouldn't pay attention to these great candidates," he added.