SANTA FE – EMILY’s List, the influential D.C.-based political action committee that backs female candidates running in local, state and national campaigns, has made its pick in northern New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District — Santa Fe lawyer Teresa Leger Fernandez.
The national PAC bills itself as a financial supporter of pro-choice Democratic candidates as well as women who “can make significant contributions to education, health care, voting rights, and economic equality.”
In New Mexico, EMILY’s List supported the recent successful campaigns of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, U.S. Reps. Deb Haaland and Xochitl Torres Small and Secretary of State Maggie Tolouse Oliver.
Leger is one of two women in the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, who is vacating his House seat to run for U.S. Senate in 2020. The other is Valerie Plame of Santa Fe, nationally known for being outed as a CIA operative by the administration of President George W. Bush and also an author.
Leger Fernandez, a Las Vegas, N.M. native, declared her candidacy for the crowded CD3 Democratic primary last month. Other Democrats who have filed, in addition to Plame, are First District Attorney Marco Serna, state Rep. Joseph Sanchez of Alcalde, consultant and former government employee Rob Apodaca and Gavin Kaiser of Santa Cruz.
Securing an endorsement from EMILY’s List is a significant success for Leger Fernandez, according to Brian Sanderoff, president of Albuquerque’s Research & Polling, Inc.
It will come with additional campaign resources, credibility when seeking money from other D.C. organizations, and boost her name recognition. At this point in the race, Sanderoff says, more voters are likely to know the EMILY’s List name more than Leger Fernandez’s.
And in a crowded Democratic primary like CD3, Sanderoff said, it can be difficult to raise money because everyone is seeking out the same in-state donors.
“So when you get a national endorsement such as this, it can be pretty significant,” he said. “And let’s face it, the race here is more in the Democratic Primary than the general election” because of the district’s majority-Democrat make-up. Republican Brett Kokonadis of Santa Fe has filed to run.
Asked if it’s a surprise that EMILY’s List didn’t go with the well-known Plame, Sanderoff said it’s difficult to question the choice without intimate knowledge of the PAC’s decision process. He did say the group has recently been more willing to make endorsements in races with more than one female candidate.
According to a statement from EMILY’s List president Stephanie Schriock, Leger received the endorsement due to her “commitment to service,” experience locally and as a former White House fellow and he priorities including public education and economic development.
“I am honored to receive EMILY’s List endorsement and acknowledgement that I will be a strong and passionate leader for New Mexico in Congress,” Leger Fernandez said in a news release. “I have walked and worked in our communities, and have a deep understanding of how to create more opportunities for New Mexico’s families.”