Valerie Plame, a former CIA operative who was outed as an agent by the Bush Administration, confirmed rumors Thursday that she's running for New Mexico's 3rd Congressional District as a Democrat.
A New Mexico resident for more than a decade, Plame would be the first woman to hold the seat since the district's creation in 1983.
The seat is being vacated by Rep. Ben Ray Luján, who's seeking to move over to the Senate seat currently held by Sen. Tom Udall, who is not running for reelection. Luján has served in Congress since 2009.
Plame's resume is not sparse, and she's been a fixture in Santa Fe lately.
"My work with the CIA often took me to Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs, and when my career in national security intelligence was ended prematurely, through no fault of my own, there was only one place my heart wanted to be—Santa Fe," Plume said in a press release issued by her campaign. "I moved the day after Vice President Cheney's chief aide Scooter Libby was convicted for his role in outing my true CIA identity. I had traveled the world as part of a military family and then throughout my career. New Mexico was the first place that felt like home and that's what it has been ever since."
Plame's then-husband Joe Wilson, a former diplomat, had written a column calling into doubt claims by the Bush Administration that Saddam Hussein had been seeking nuclear weapons. Soon after, Plame's true identity was leaked and the journalist Robert Novak wrote a column revealing her in the Washington Post.
The incident turned into a scandal for the Bush Administration, and although no officials were convicted for the leak, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, was convicted of perjury. His sentence was commuted by Bush immediately after, and he was pardoned by President Donald Trump in 2018.
After her work with the CIA, Plame sat on multiple nonprofit boards, became affiliated with the Santa Fe Institute and wrote both a memoir and a series of spy novels.
Plame and Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber have appeared at events together in the past, and she endorsed Webber's run for mayor.
The press release issued by the Plame campaign cites health care as one of her major campaign issues.
"The high cost of health care and prescription medicine is hitting everyone," it says. "For those who can afford health insurance, there has been a steep rise in premiums and co-payments while receiving fewer and fewer services. And those who cannot afford health care are struggling to get any care at all, because insurance companies are dramatically reducing access. Everyone is losing under the health care system we have today except for insurance and drug companies."
The field is filling up for the primary election that takes place in June of 2020.
State Rep. Joseph Sanchez, D-Alcalde, a freshman legislator, has declared that he will run for the seat as well.
"I envision a future where together we can bring increased results for northern New Mexico families in the areas of public health, the environment, the economy, energy sustainability, human rights and our overall quality of life," Sanchez says in a press release.
Marco Serna, district attorney for New Mexico's 1st Judicial District in Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Los Alamos counties, has formed an exploratory committee and seems to be leaning towards entering the race. He has said that he will make a decision by mid-May.
Teresa Leger, a Santa Fe lawyer, Mark McDonald, a businessman and the chairman of the Colfax County Democratic Party, and Gavin Kaiser, founder of "the Oratory of Mystical Sacraments," an "all-encompassing religious organization," have also announced that they will run.
Only one Republican, Brett Kokinadis of Santa Fe, has filed to run. Until recently, he was a Democrat. Only one Republican, Bill Redmond, has ever held the seat, and for less than a full term.
The district stretches across Northern New Mexico to the border with Colorado, and went decisively for Hillary Clinton in 2016, all but ensuring that whoever wins the Democratic primary will take the general election.