Editorial: Our picks for president, Congress

Primary 2020 - Teresa Leger Fernandez (D) is the Taos News pick for State Senate District 3 Courtesy photo

New Mexico's June primary, whether you vote in person or absentee, gives voters a choice among many candidates, from U.S. Congress to county commission. In some races, such as the presidential one, voters have no choice. In other races such as for U.S. Senate and House, many candidates have thrown their hats in the ring. Be sure to vote in the primaries, because having strong candidates in November's general election will allow for robust political debates.

President

The two major-party presidential candidates for November's general election were decided upon long before New Mexico's June primary: Joseph Biden for the Democrats and Donald Trump for the Republicans. Many Democratic contenders remain on the ballot, and there is no reason not to cast a vote for your favorite, just to show the party whom you would have preferred to win the nomination.

The ballot will contain nine names for Libertarians running for president. Taos County resident Gary Johnson, former New Mexico governor and himself a Libertarian candidate for president, explained that Libertarian nominees are chosen at a party convention, often with little consideration of primary results. He predicted that Justin Amash, a U.S. representative from Michigan will be the nominee, a name not even on New Mexico's ballot.

United States Senate

Ben R. Luján, who has ably represented New Mexico in the House of Representatives, has no opponents on the Democratic primary ballot. He seeks to replace retiring Sen. Tom Udall.

Three Republicans are vying to run against him in November. Elisa Maria Martinez, hoping to become the country's first Native American female senator, is our choice for that party's nominee. Five years ago, she founded the New Mexico Alliance for Life, a pro-life group aiming to defeat pro-abortion legislation.

She grew up in Gallup. Her mother's family is from Zuni Pueblo and the Navajo Reservation. She has 15 generations of Hispanic heritage in New Mexico on her father's side. Because of her deep roots in the state, we recommend Martinez in the GOP primary.

United States House

• Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez is a native of the "other side of the mountain" -- Las Vegas. Helping rural and small-town New Mexicans is a priority for her. She was a White House Fellow under President Bill Clinton, a prestigious post for young people that allows them to learn all about government. Her education, which began in Head Start, took her through West Las Vegas High School, on to Yale University and Stanford Law School.

She is in favor of Medicare for all, women's reproductive freedom, the Green New Deal. She supports a path to citizenship for Dreamers, children who grew up in the United States but were brought here as undocumented immigrants. She favors background checks on all gun sales and a ban on assault weapons. We urge you to vote for Leger Fernandez in the Democratic primary.

• Republican Harry Montoya, a resident of Nambé, was a respected Santa Fe County commissioner known for his attention to constituent services. His strong Catholic faith and social conservatism lead him to favor right-to-life as well as rights for gun owners.

His view on immigration shows that he is a man who wrestles with important issues without giving a quick, party-line reaction: "I have listened to many people on both sides of the immigration debate, and it's clear that there are no easy answers or quick fixes. We need to uphold the law, and at the same time, our current laws make it nearly impossible for many law-abiding, honest people to legally enter the U.S." Vote for Montoya in the GOP primary.

Public Education Commission

All those on the ballot for PEC District 10, the entity that oversees the state's charter schools, are write-in candidates.

Democrat Steven Carrillo, an eight-year veteran of the Santa Fe Public Schools board, is decisive, articulate and organized. If elected, he wants to streamline the bureaucracy, minimize administrative costs and focus on teaching and learning.

He believes there should be no cap on the number of charter schools in the state. He says the decision to consider a new one should be based on fulfilling an unmet need in a school district.

Carrillo is our write-in choice for the Public Education Commission on the Democratic ballot.

Next week (May 14): See the Taos News recommendations for N.M. House Districts 6 and 8, 8th Judicial District judge, 8th Judicial District Attorney, Magistrate Court judge, Taos County commissioners and Taos County clerk. Visit our website at taosnews.com for more election coverage, and profiles in our "Primary 2020" voter guide, published April 30.

Reminder: Endorsement letters or letters pertaining to candidates or the primary election received after May 15 will not be published.

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