Ex-CIA Operative's Congressional Bid Fizzles

Attorney Teresa Leger Fernandez beats Valerie Plame to win Dem House nomination in NM
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 3, 2020 7:21 AM CDT
Ex-CIA Operative Valerie Plame Loses House Bid
In this Oct. 22, 2018, file photo, former CIA operative Valerie Plame is interviewed on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Attorney Teresa Leger Fernandez defeated former CIA operative Valerie Plame to win the Democratic nomination in New Mexico's 3rd Congressional District in Tuesday's primary. Leger Fernandez overcame six competitors, including Plame, to win her party's nomination to succeed US Rep. Ben Ray Lujan as he runs for US Senate, per the AP. The nomination of Leger Fernandez, a professional advocate for Native American pueblo communities and voting rights issues, is likely to be decisive in the vast northern district where Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 2-1. In her first run for public office, Plame harnessed her fame as a former US intelligence operative whose secret identity was exposed shorty after her diplomat husband disputed US intelligence used to justify the 2003 Iraq invasion.

On the campaign trail, she emphasized her experience in speaking truth to power in DC and her solidarity with people who feel betrayed by President Trump. Plame outpaced all competitors in campaign contributions, leveraging her national name recognition in promotional ads involving daredevil driving maneuvers and a newsreel-style montage of her thwarted undercover career aimed at keeping nukes from terrorists. But Leger Fernandez was able to upstage Plame with support from a long list of advocacy groups for progressive causes and greater Latina representation in Congress. She landed prominent political endorsements from US Rep. Debra Haaland and US Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Democrats have monopolized the northern district since its creation in 1983, with the exception of one special election. Leger Fernandez could become the first woman to hold the seat.

(Read more Valerie Plame stories.)

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