- Associated Press - Monday, August 19, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Former leading state elections regulator and Obama-administration official John Blair on Monday announced he’ll run against a crowded Democratic field for the nomination to seek an open congressional seat in northern New Mexico in 2020.

The seat is currently held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, who is running for Senate.

Blair, 45, a former deputy secretary of state, is highlighting his upbringing in Santa Fe and prior work with the U.S. Interior Department as a liaison with local governments in Obama administration efforts to trim carbon emissions at power plants and conserve public lands.

Blair acknowledged he is gay and would be an advocate in Congress for LGBTQ rights as well as the rights of minorities and immigrants.

“I’ve seen first-hand what happens when we put progressive ideas into action,” Blair said in a video posted on social media. “President Obama enacted 26 new national monuments, including the Rio Grande del Norte monument here in New Mexico and the Stonewall Inn, which is the first monument to represent LGBTQ Americans.”



Blair said he wants to build a “people-powered” campaign and won’t accept money from corporate political committees.

Contenders for the Democratic nomination in the 3rd Congressional District include former CIA operative and author Valerie Plame; Santa Fe-based District Attorney Marco Serna; attorney and Las Vegas, N.M.-native Teresa Leger Fernandez, state Rep. Joseph Sanchez of Alcalde; and former Navajo Nation presidential and vice presidential candidate Dineh Benally.

The district has served as a political stepping stone for prominent Democrats such as Sen. Tom Udall and former Gov. Bill Richardson. Audra Lee Brown of Portales registered in July to run for the Republican nomination, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Blair served as the state’s No. 2 elections and campaign finance regulator during most of the tenure of current Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver that began in 2016. He helped guide the agency’s push toward coordinated motor vehicle-and-voter registration and same-day voter registration after 2020.

Blair was involved in the agency’s failed attempt to block former Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce from transferring federal campaign cash to his unsuccessful 2018 campaign for governor. The courts ultimately sided with Pearce.

Blair described the current presidential administration as a “dumpster fire,” contending that President Donald Trump has intentionally inflamed the crisis over asylum-seeking migrants for political gain and is threatening the U.S. and world economies with his trade tariffs on Chinese imports.

He said Congress should focus attention on solutions to global warming.

“We’ve got a president and Republicans in Congress that are denying that this crisis even exists,” Blair said.

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This story has been corrected to show that a Republican has registered to run for the 3rd Congressional District seat.

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