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Editorial: Journal endorses candidates for NM’s congressional delegation

Today, the Journal announces its endorsements for the U.S. House of Representatives. For more information, including previously published endorsements, candidate Q&As, district maps and news stories as they are published, go to the Albuquerque Journal’s 2020 election guide at ABQJournal.com/election2020.

District 1

Republican, Michelle Garcia Holmes

As a veteran of law enforcement, Garcia Holmes is the right candidate at the right time to represent the crime-plagued Albuquerque metro area in Washington, D.C.

Garcia Holmes has been fighting crime most of her adult life. When she was a rookie Albuquerque police officer in her early 20s, she volunteered for an undercover assignment as a student at Eldorado High School. The three-month investigation led to the arrests of several adults affiliated with a Mexican drug cartel who were using young people in a drug and burglary operation. She worked in all divisions of the APD, including investigating homicides and sex crimes against children.

After 20 years at the APD, Garcia Holmes was chief of staff for eight years for former N.M. Attorney General Gary King, a Democrat, helping him establish the first state corruption division. Now, Garcia Holmes says Albuquerque needs federal help. She told the Journal that calls to defund the police are “ludicrous” and she makes no bones about accepting federal law enforcement assistance, including Operation Legend this summer, which has resulted in the arrests of dozens of violent offenders in Albuquerque. “Crime is a huge issue for New Mexico,” she said in her Journal Q&A. “It’s one of the main reasons why businesses don’t want to come here. It’s one of the main reasons our families are not thriving. It’s one of the main reasons New Mexico is at the bottom of the list in many categories.”

Garcia Holmes is more focused on addressing today’s crime and crime victims than getting mired down in rhetorical discussions about correcting historical injustices. She doesn’t make excuses for violent protesters, and she condemns violence and wanton destruction of public property. She also has a rational all-of-the-above energy policy, noting the tremendous harm a ban on fracking would have on the state’s budget and oil workers.

Garcia Holmes would bring a political balance to the state’s delegation. She faces Democratic incumbent Deb Haaland, who brought valuable diversity to Congress as a member of Laguna Pueblo but has tied herself too closely to extreme far-left legislation, including co-sponsoring the Green New Deal. The district includes the Albuquerque metro area, all of Torrance County and portions of Bernalillo, Sandoval, Santa Fe and Valencia counties.

District 2

Democratic incumbent, Xochitl Torres Small

Torres Small doesn’t have the luxury of voting along party lines, even if she wanted to. Her politically diverse district includes the oil fields of the Permian Basin and college town Las Cruces, stretching from Texas to Arizona. And she has done a good job balancing its widely varied interests.

Before being elected two years ago, Torres Small pledged to advocate for bipartisan solutions and has backed up those bipartisan words with action. She is a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus in Congress. To join, a member of one party must be accompanied by a member of the opposing party. The equally divided caucus is committed to finding common ground on many issues facing the nation. Recently, the caucus proposed a common-sense, limited coronavirus relief package after negotiations between President Trump and Democratic congressional members hit a standstill. Torres Small says the initiative prompted congressional leaders to restart negotiations, which unfortunately have stalled again.

Torres Small is representing the state’s most politically conservative district, home to ranchers, farmers and the Permian Basin. But as Las Cruces has grown, so have the number of Democrats in that district.

Torres Small is reasoned, deliberative and well-versed in policy. Some top Republican leaders blew their tops this year after the executive director of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association described her as a strong advocate for New Mexico’s energy interests. But NMOGA’s Ryan Flynn was right: Torres Small has placed great emphasis on the oil and gas industry during her tenure in Congress, including bucking some members of her own party who wanted to exclude the oil and gas industry and its workers from the CARES Act. She’s also committed to infrastructure investments to improve roads and bridges and invest in broadband and cellular infrastructure.

Torres Small is bright, young and energetic, and we hope she will grow as a moderate Democrat – and not follow the progressive fringes of her party. She’s endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And as a freshman member of the House, she’s shown an unusual ability to be an effective legislator, getting a bill through the House to scan all vehicles entering the U.S. and introducing legislation to strategically deploy a combination of technology and agents for each mile of the southern border.

Torres Small is a rising star in Congress and deserves to be re-elected. She faces Republican Yvette Herrell to represent the southern half of the state.

District 3

Democrat, Teresa Leger Fernandez

Leger Fernandez, a social impact lawyer with 30 years of experience, is a natural fit to succeed U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján in representing the Democrat-dominated district. She told the Journal Editorial Board earlier this year she would be a big advocate for diversity and multiculturalism, which are important issues in the district with numerous pueblos and tribes. “The nation is calling on Congress to address racial injustice in policing,” she said in her Journal Q&A. “I am supportive of the legislation passed by the House, which would ban chokeholds, no-knock warrants and require the use of body cams.”

Leger Fernandez has represented tribes and their business entities for three decades, seeking to build healthy, thriving communities. She has served on the Legislative Committee of All Pueblo Council of Governors and fought for voting rights and clean water in Indian country. We hope she will work to finally ensure every home in the state has clean water.

Leger Fernandez says the best lawyer is the one who listens. She says she has a natural ability to listen, important in the northern district where ranching and environmental interests compete. She also says she has real experience building things, including helping efforts to build three health clinics. That practical experience will be necessary as New Mexico struggles to rebuild the economy. “We need a recovery package that will provide jobs and pull us out of this recession,” she said in her Q&A. “If we reinvest in infrastructure – including broadband, clean water, rural health clinics – support small businesses, instate permanent paid family leave, and tackle the climate crisis, we can build a healthier, more just and sustainable future.”

Leger Fernandez also supports legislation creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. “Congress must also pass the DREAM Act, which must also extend to dreamers’ families,” she said.

Leger Fernandez faces Republican Alexis Johnson to represent the northern New Mexico district.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.



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