Late Republican Senator’s Daughter Launches Senate Bid in New Mexico

Late Republican Senator’s Daughter Launches Senate Bid in New Mexico


Nella Domenici, the daughter of longtime New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici, is seeking to flip the Democrat-controlled seat back.

Nella Domenici, the daughter of a longtime Republican senator for New Mexico, is launching her bid to reclaim her father’s former seat for Republicans.

“After a period of diligent research and evaluation, it is clear that the political environment in New Mexico is favorable to Republicans. Over 70 percent of voters believe the country is on the wrong track,” Ms. Domenici said on Wednesday in a statement announcing her campaign.

“There is massive dissatisfaction with the economy, our border, and the misguided policies from Washington that have made life more difficult for New Mexico families. I’m in this fight to win,” she said.

The filing on the Federal Election Commission’s website shows that Ms. Domenici submitted the paperwork with the organization on Tuesday morning.

With the backing of the Republican Party’s Senate campaign arm, Ms. Domenici will face other Republicans, including former Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzalez, in the primary on June 4. The winner of the primary will challenge incumbent Sen. Martin Heinrich, a Democrat who is seeking a third term.

“I’m pleased Nella Domenici is running for Senate in New Mexico,” National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Steve Daines (R-Mont.) said in a statement. “Nella’s experience at the highest levels of business, commitment to securing our border, and passion for improving education make her a strong candidate to flip this seat.”

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Ms. Domenici was born in Albuquerque. She attended Georgetown University for her undergraduate and law degrees. She earned an MBA degree from Harvard Business School.

Before entering politics, Ms. Domenici spent her career in business and finance. She worked as chief financial officer at the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, from 2015 to 2018. She has also held positions at Credit Suisse and Citadel.

She currently serves on the boards of consulting company Cognizant Technology Solutions and investment-management firm AllianceBernstein.

Pete Domenici’s Legacy

Her late father, Pete Domenici, was a Republican who represented New Mexico in the U.S. Senate from 1973 to 2009. He was known as the longest-serving Senator in the state’s history.

After serving six terms in the Senate, Mr. Domenici in 2010 announced that he decided to not seek a seventh, citing his incurable brain disease called frontotemporal lobar degeneration, or FTLD, a deterioration of brain tissue that can cause trouble using and understanding written and spoken language. His final election in 2002 also marked the most recent time a New Mexico Republican won a Senate race.

Throughout his congressional career, Mr. Domenici was perhaps best remembered for his chairmanship of the Senate Budget Committee, where he championed for spending cuts and a balanced federal budget. As chairman, he produced two consecutive balanced budgets in fiscal years 1998 and 1999, the only balanced federal budgets in the past half-century.

Mr. Domenici also advocated for healthcare coverage for mental illness. In 2008, he co-sponsored the Mental Health Parity Act, requiring health insurance companies to provide equal coverage for mental illnesses.

In 2013, Mr. Domenici publicly admitted to the fact that he secretly fathered a son with lobbyist Michelle Laxalt, daughter of his friend and colleague, former Republican Sen. Paul Laxalt of Nevada. The son, Adam Laxalt, served as Nevada’s Attorney General from 2015 to 2019 and helped lead the Nevada Republican Party’s unsuccessful legal efforts questioning the integrity of the state’s 2020 general election results.

In 2017, Mr. Domenici died of complications from an abdominal surgery at the age of 85.

“Like my father and mother, I have been a warrior for those who most need an advocate: for women competing in academics or business, for families dealing with mental illness, and for those without access to quality healthcare or education,” Ms. Domenici said.

New Mexico Democrats said they are confident in Mr. Heinrich’s reelection, noting that Ms. Domenici will have to win what could be intense primary battles.

“If Nella Domenici survives the dogfight, her close ties to Wall Street and her work for a mega-hedge fund that laid off American workers while investing in China will all face extensive scrutiny as Republicans’ primary intensifies,” New Mexico Democratic Party Chair Jessica Velasquez said.

“Democrats have won every Senate race in New Mexico since 2006, and we are confident Senator Heinrich will be reelected,” she said.

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