Elections 2020: Candidates campaign in San Juan County ahead of pre-primary conventions

Valerie Plame visits Farmington; Republicans participate in candidate forum in Aztec

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times

AZTEC — Candidates for Congressional District 3 and U.S. Senate are visiting San Juan County as the date approaches for the San Juan County Republican and Democratic parties’ pre-primary conventions.

The Democratic county convention will be Jan. 25 and the Republican convention will be Jan. 30.

San Juan County Democratic Party Chairwoman MP Schildmeyer said the county’s pre-primary convention involves selecting delegates. These delegates will attend the state pre-primary convention on March 7 and vote for candidates. Any candidate who receives 20% of the vote will automatically be included on the primary election ballot. The Republican state pre-primary convention will also be on March 7.

Republican senate candidate participates in forum

Elisa Martinez speaks, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, during a San Juan County Patriots meeting at the Aztec Senior-Community Center.

Republican candidate Elisa Martinez, who is running for U.S. Senate, visited San Juan County this week and stopped by the San Juan County Patriot’s Jan. 16 meeting in Aztec. This allowed her to become a last-minute addition to a candidate forum, replacing Congressional District 3 candidate Alexis Johnson who was unable to make the forum due to a storm.

If elected, Martinez will be the first woman to serve as New Mexico's senator. She identifies as both Native American and Latina. She is an anti-abortion advocate who founded the New Mexico Alliance for Life.

Anastacia Golden Morper, Karen Bedonie and Elisa Martinez participate in a candidate forum, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Aztec. Morper and Bedonie are running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Congress while Martinez hopes to be the next senator.

"I've been on the front lines with many of you fighting for the right to life for unborn children," she said.

Martinez also spoke out in favor of a border wall and said she supports the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Valerie Plame meets with voters in Farmington

Valerie Plame hopes to be the Democratic Party’s nominee for Congressional District 3, and some of the Republican candidates have identified her as the candidate that will be hardest to defeat in the general election.

“You’ve got to pick the candidate who can beat that Plame woman,” said Karen Bedonie, who is running for the Republican nomination, during the San Juan County Patriots meeting.

Valerie Plame speaks, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, during a campaign visit to Farmington.

Out of all the candidates in both parties, Plame has the most name recognition. She served in the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency for decades before her identity as a covert officer was leaked in 2003. Plame said a member of the President George W. Bush administration leaked her identity in retaliation for an opinion piece her husband published in the New York Times criticizing the war in Iraq.

“I love what I did,” she said during a campaign visit. “I felt like it was really meaningful.”

She said if her identity had not been leaked, she would still be overseas “chasing bad guys around the world.”

More recently, Plame gained national attention for her action movie style campaign video, which featured her driving a sports car and has received more than a million views on YouTube.

Au audience listens as Valerie Plame speaks, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, during a campaign visit to Farmington

Plame said her experience sets her apart from the rest of the candidates. She said she has more Washington, D.C. experience than her fellow candidates.

“You deserve a congresswoman who walks in on day one and knows how crazy Washington works,” Plame said.

Plame said if elected she will be focused on the issues important to New Mexicans. She said the three issues she has heard people across the district talking about are employment, education and the environment.  

In terms of the environment, she said she does not support a proposal to retrofit the San Juan Generating Station with carbon capture technology because it doesn’t sound like a “fully-baked technology” and it still relies on coal. Instead, she said the two national labs in New Mexico should focus on developing green energy technology and the government should provide incentives for those technologies.

“New Mexico has such potential to be a leader in green energy,” Plame said.

Republican CD3 candidates speak about guns during forum

Three Republican candidates for Congressional District 3 emphasized their support of the Second Amendment while participating in a candidate forum during the San Juan County Patriots meeting.

Audra Brown participates in a candidate forum, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, during the San Juan County Patriots meeting in Aztec.

Audra Brown carried her gun with her and said the 2019 New Mexico legislative session prompted her to run for office.

"This all started for me with Second Amendment advocacy," she said.

Brown said she was one of the people who traveled to Santa Fe during the 2019 legislative session to protest bills like the Extreme Risk Protection Order, also known as red flag laws. This bill ultimately failed but is on the 2020 legislative session agenda.

More:Meet the millennial Republican hoping to win the Congressional District 3 seat

"I'm not a politician," Brown said. "But I don't think that's what we need right now. I think we need something stronger. We need something like our president. We need someone who will stand up, who will take the insults and smile, but not back down... Compromise is not negotiated reductions in our liberties."

Anastacia "Anise" Golden Morper said the Second Amendment protects rights like freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the right to think.

"Without our Second Amendment rights, we lose everything," she said.

Anastacia "Anise" Golden Morper was one of several candidates who attended the San Juan County Patriots meeting, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, at the Aztec Senior Center.

She told a story about begging her father to let her going hunting with him. She said he required her to learn how to break down a weapon and reload the ammo before she could even go with him on a hunting trip. She said she learned how to do everything her father required and, at six years old, joined him on a hunting trip.

More:A fourth Republican woman has announced her candidacy for Congressional District 3

"It was hard to keep up with Daddy, because it was quail," she said. "But we had a great time. "I went hunting with my Dad just about every season after that."

She said as a single mother for 16 years she taught her children how to use firearms to defend themselves.

Karen Bedonie campaigns for the Congressional District 3 seat, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, during a San Juan County Patriots meeting in Aztec.

Bedonie's campaign website and the sign she brought to the meeting feature an image of her holding a firearm.

"That picture is not a political picture," Bedonie said. "It's a picture of an American standing for what she believes in."

She said the rifle represents her family accepting their American civility and the citizenship that Native Americans were granted in 1926 by her favorite president, Calvin Coolidge. 

Bedonie also emphasized her support of fossil fuels, including coal.

"We need it," she said. "It's a gift from the holy people."

After the forum, Bedonie said if elected she will support the effort to retrofit the San Juan Generating Station with carbon capture and provide funding to the national laboratories in New Mexico to further develop the technology, as well as technology to remove uranium from water and oil from soil.

Karen Bedonie participates in a candidate forum, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, during a San Juan County Patriots meeting in Aztec.

Johnson has statement read for her after storm prevents visit

While Johnson was unable to make the forum, she had a statement read by one of her supporters.

"I am just one American patriot," Johnson said in her statement. "I am not a politician or a billionaire or a queen. Some may call me idealistic, young or tell me that I don't know how the process works. And some may even laugh at me for still believing in a free America, which our forefathers struggled and labored to build."

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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