Valerie Plame, the former CIA officer whose identity was outed during the George W. Bush administration in 2003, is running for Congress as a Democrat, to represent northern New Mexico for the open seat to replace Ben Ray Lujan, who is running to replace Tom Udall, who is retiring form the US Senate.
She moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, the day after Scooter Libby, then-Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, was convicted for lying about his role in the leak. I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was convicted of lying to investigators and obstruction of justice following the 2003 leak. Plame was an undercover CIA officer who recommended sending her husband, the former diplomat Joe Wilson, to Niger to investigate Bush administration claims that then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase uranium from Niger, for use in weapons production. Wilson published an op-ed in 2003 casting doubts on the administration's claims, used to back up assertions that Iraq was pursuing weapons of mass destruction.
Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, told two other journalists about Plame's identity as a way to undercut Wilson's conclusions.
President Donald Trump issued a full pardon to Libby last year.
"My career in the CIA was cut short by partisan politics, but I'm not done serving our country. We need more people in Congress with the courage to stand up for what's right. When I moved with my family to Santa Fe after leaving the CIA, my main goal was to find a place we could call home and where my twins could grow up in a truly special and diverse land.
I have big news, and I am not going to be covert about it. I just filed papers to run for Congressman Ben Ray Luja'n's open congressional seat in Northern New Mexico for the 2020 election. I am running for Congress because, like you, I cannot sit idly by and watch our president diminish our values and standing in the world.Although I have lived all over the world, initially with my Air Force family and then with my CIA career, the first place that truly felt like my home was New Mexico. We were warmly embraced by our new community, and I jumped in to learn as much as I could and participated in a variety of ways: schools, non-profits, the arts, and civic life. I would be honored to serve my country again and work toward positive change for my community. I know what Washington is like. We fought a long battle, speaking truth to power, and came out of it able to tell my story. I am in this race because it is the right thing to do. I will work as hard defending my fellow New Mexicans in Washington as I did defending our country from nuclear threats.
I'm not a career politician. BUT, I know what it takes to show courage in the face of adversity.
In July 2003, Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, wrote in a New York Times op-ed that in the months before the Iraq war "some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat." Plame's work for the CIA was reported in the media not long afterward.
Plame has noted that one of primary goals is to tackle the high cost of health care. "Everyone is losing under the health care system we have today except for insurance and drug companies."
Democratic strategist Oscar Ramirez said Plame would be a strong candidate with a "pretty sophisticated" national donor network, but said other candidates with deep ties to New Mexico, who could better connect to the rural areas of the district, may enter the primary race.
While not originally from New Mexico, Plame said the state has become her "heart" and that she has now lived here for longer a period of time than anywhere else in her life. She has spent time camping and hiking across norther New Mexico, saying, "I haven't sequestered myself in Santa Fe during my time here."
Since Rep. Ben Ray Luja'n, a member of the House Democratic leadership, announced his run for the US Senate in April, several Democrats have said they would consider running for his seat. Luja'n told CNN that Plame has been a "very active" constituent in the community but is not going to endorse anyone in the Democratic primary.
Rep. Deb Haaland, a Democrat in New Mexico, won her race in 2018 after a six-way primary and expected a similar outcome in 2020. "An open seat in New Mexico doesn't come along very often," she said. "I'm sure there will be a lot of people running."
Plame wrote a memoir, "Fair Game," which became the basis for a Hollywood movie, and a novel, "Blowback." She also worked on behalf of the Santa Fe Institute, scientific research center, and worked to eliminate nuclear weapons.