Fernandez defeats Valerie Plame in New Mexico House primary

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Congressional candidate and former CIA operative Valerie Plame of Santa Fe, N.M., seeks support from local party delegates at the Democratic Party preprimary convention in Pojoaque, N.M., Saturday, March 7, 2020. Candidates for open congressional and Senate seats underwent the first test of their political might as the Democratic and Republican parties of New Mexico held statewide conventions. The conventions decide the ballot order for candidates in the state's primary election on June 2. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)

SANTA FE, N.M. – 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 U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján as he runs for U.S. Senate.

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 U.S. intelligence operative whose secret identity was exposed shorty after her diplomat husband disputed U.S. intelligence used to justify the 2003 Iraq invasion.

On the campaign trail, she emphasized her experience in speaking truth to power in Washington and her solidarity with people who feel betrayed by President Donald Trump.

Trump recently pardoned vice presidential aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby of his conviction for lying and obstruction during the investigation into the leak of Plame’s identity.

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 U.S. Rep. Debra Haaland of Albuquerque and U.S. Senator and former presidential contender Elizabeth Warren.