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Environmental lawyer Kyle Tisdel enters 3rd CD race; Apodaca out

Kyle Tisdel

SANTA FE – A public interest environmental attorney from Taos has joined the crowded Democratic field in the 2020 race for northern New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, Rob Apodaca, who runs a Santa Fe consulting firm and previously held positions in local, state and federal government agencies, has suspended his campaign for the seat, saying that with the recent passing of his brother, “now is a time that my family must come first.”

Kyle Tisdel, a lawyer with the Western Environmental Law Center, says he’s officially filed as a candidate because of “the crisis New Mexicans face and the lack of bold, transformative leadership needed to address climate change.”

“We are in a climate emergency, representing an existential threat to people across New Mexico, our country, and the entire planet,” he said. “The silence in this race on climate change has been deafening.

He added: “I’m ready to put my years of experience to work on behalf of our communities, our families, and everyone across New Mexico to address this challenge and to realize the economic opportunities presented for our state by being leaders in the transition to a clean energy future.”

Tisdel legal work includes the recent legal efforts to protect land around Chaco Canyon National Historical Park from oil and gas drilling.

His news release said that while representing Diné, or Navajo, interests, he “won protection for over 20,000 acres in the Santa Fe National Forest from being sold for oil and gas development, and halted federal approval for hundreds of fracking permits across Greater Chaco for failing to consider the cumulative impacts on people and the environment.”

Tisdel has a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Michigan State University and got his law degree from Vermont Law School. He and his wife Dillon have three children — ages 8, 3, and 1.

Apodaca owns the Motiva Corp. consulting firm in Santa Fe, where he works with nonprofits, small businesses, tribes and government entities on finance and operations management and other issues.

“I had hoped that my work would continue in Congress, but unfortunately that cannot happen at this time,” he said in statement Thursday. Federal Election Commission filings showed that Apodoca had raised $101,000 for his campaign through June. That total included a loan of $65,000 from himself.

Other Democrats in the race include former CIA agent and author Valerie Plame; Santa Fe District Attorney Marco Serna; Santa Fe attorney Teresa Leger Fernandez; state Rep. Joseph Sanchez of Alcalde; Gavin Kaiser of Santa Cruz, founder and executive director at Oratory of Mystical Sacraments; and Sandoval County treasurer Laura Montoya.

Republican Audra Lee Brown of Portales also is running.

Incumbent U.S. Rep Ben Ray Lujàn is running for U.S. Senate next year.