Leger Fernandez and Martinez Johnson vie to represent CD3

By Anthony Romero-Kleve

On Nov. 8 Republican Alexis Martinez Johnson is hoping to upset first-term Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez to represent a district that now stretches diagonally across the state from Farmington to Hobbs.

Teresa Leger Fernandez was born in Las Vegas, New Mexico, where her mother was a bilingual educator and her father served in the state Senate. A graduate of Yale and Stanford Law School, she has been a public interest lawyer for 30 years, working on voting rights, civil rights, affordable housing and community development.

Alexis Martinez Johnson grew up in Roswell, where she was raised by grandparents with close ties across the border. She attended Vanderbilt University before graduating from New Mexico Tech and has since worked for the oil and gas industry as an environmental engineer.

The two candidates also faced off in 2020, when Leger Fernandez beat Martinez Johnson with 59% of the total vote. Although the district is different now, polls show the race following the last one, with Leger Fernandez leading Martinez Johnson by 58–48 in the most recent poll.

Fundraising totals show the incumbent raised significantly more money. According to the Federal Election Committee, Leger Fernandez brought in about $2.9 Million while Martinez Johnson raised about $260,000.

The Albuquerque Journal endorsed Fernandez Leger, citing her success in bringing federal money to the district and her commitment to resolving Calf Canyon/Hermit’s Peak wildfire issues. 

“On the big issues that are troubling America, Leger Fernández supports reproductive rights for women, respecting privacy and women’s autonomy,” the more liberal-leaning Santa Fe New Mexican argued in its endorsement. “She is a sensible vote on gun safety laws, understanding crime on the streets will not decrease without reducing guns. She has voted for legislation that will ensure free and fair elections continue.”

Martinez Johnson was endorsed by the conservative Maggie’s List. “As a Hispanic mother, she understands that Washington’s out-of-control spending has led to skyrocketing inflation that hurts our families. In Congress, Alexis will bring common sense spending back to Congress and stop the Democrat’s radical agenda,” said Tina Ramirez, the national spokeswoman for Maggie’s List. In 2020, she was endorsed by the firebrand Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, who said she would be “an ally for conservatives in the House and President Trump.”

Leger Fernandez touts her experience bringing home Hermit’s Peak Fire Aid, voting for the Inflation Reduction Act, and pushing for bills to fight supply chain issues causing inflation and affordable housing. 

On abortion, Leger Fernandez supports broad access while Martinez Johnson prefers a ban after 15 weeks. “I support New Mexicans, I support them having a voice and a choice, and at that fifteenth week, I think that is a point where they can make that decision,” Martinez Johnson said in an interview on KNME-TV.

In the same interview, Martinez Johnson said she believes securing the border is essential for fighting crime and reducing the amount of drugs brought into the country, although in reality, the majority of drugs are trafficked by U.S. citizens. T

Leger Fernandez acknowledged we are “blessed with abundant natural resources” in a debate hosted by KOB-TV in late October but added “I also know we must address the climate crisis or else New Mexico will dry out.”

“What my opponent advocates for is putting New Mexicans at risk,”  Martinez Johnson rebutted, saying that democratic approach to reliance on foreign oil is damaging the economy, “Not only can we not afford these almost double fuel costs…we cannot take extreme policies like this.” 

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By Gwyneth Doland Parker

Gwyneth Doland Parker is a journalist and instructor in the UNM Department of Communication and Journalism.