Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
The 3rd Congressional District has been a Democratic stronghold since its creation in 1982. In fact, just one Republican has ever held the seat – and even then for an abbreviated term in the late 1990s after Bill Richardson stepped down to become U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
Most election years, just one, maybe two, Republicans decide to enter the race in the Democratic dominated 3rd Congressional District race. One year, 2002, the GOP didn’t bother to field a candidate.
But nothing is normal in 2020.
Initially, seven Republicans declared interest in pursuing the seat, perhaps sensing an opening in a year with an incumbent Republican president on the ballot in the general election. In the end, three made the ballot for the June 2 primary and one other qualified as a write-in candidate.
One of the favorites is a former Democrat, however. Harry B. Montoya switched his political affiliation a year ago after he said Democratic Party leadership told him he wouldn’t be supported because of his stance on abortion. He told the Journal in December that his anti-abortion stance and moderate political views made him the type of candidate that would appeal to voters in northern New Mexico, regardless of party.
Montoya is a former Santa Fe County commissioner and spent eight years on the Pojoaque Valley school board.
He now works as constituent/legislative affairs director for the Children, Youth and Families Department.
Montoya ran for the 3rd Congressional District seat once before as a Democrat, placing fourth among six Democrats in the 2008 primary. Twelve years later, he thinks his chances are better now that he’s a Republican.
“I wouldn’t be doing this without the confidence that it will happen,” he said of his chances of winning the seat. “And I have had moderate friends tell me as much.”
Montoya emerged the winner at the state party’s pre-primary convention in March, earning 39% of the delegate vote.
Coming in second was Karen Bedonie, a member of the Mexican Springs chapter of the Navajo Nation, who garnered 31% of the vote.
Bedonie told the Journal that she entered the race because people in her part of the state weren’t being represented.
Bedonie’s campaign website features a photo of her holding a red, white and blue 308 Winchester rifle.
“The beginning of the regulation of arms is the beginning of the end,” she says. “Once they get rid of the Second Amendment, it’s all over.”
Alexis Johnson of Santa Fe spent most of her career as an energy consultant in the Permian Basin in southeast New Mexico.
“I am here to bring the voice of a mother, a rancher, a former oil and gas environmental consultant, an engineer, a native New Mexican,” she says in her appeal to voters.
Johnson has attended some of the reopen New Mexico rallies in Santa Fe and Grants.
“It’s not the job of the governor to dictate to us how we live,” she said at a Santa Fe event last month.
Though her name won’t be on the ballot, Angela Gale Morales of Rio Rancho has qualified for the primary as a write-in candidate.
Republicans may have a hard time keeping pace with Democrats in fundraising. Campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission last month showed that the leading fundraiser among GOP candidates was Anise Golden Morper, who had raised $35,000. All of the Democratic candidates raised more than that and two have raised more than $1 million.
Golden Morper dropped out of the race in March.