Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Nella Domenici files to run for seat her father, Senator Pete, held for six terms

Nella Domenici, the daughter of longtime U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission announcing her run for Senate as a Republican.

The filing on the FEC website shows Domenici submitted the paperwork Tuesday morning. 

Paul Smith, managing director for Rival Strategy Group, confirmed to Source NM that the filings are accurate, and Rival is working as lead strategists for the campaign. Rival’s other clients include Republican Congressional candidate Yvette Herrell and Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block, who is running as a Republican for state senate. 

She faces other Republicans, including former Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzalez, in the primary on June 4. The winner of the primary will challenge Sen. Martin Heinrich, who is seeking a third term in the Senate.

Domenici is the daughter of long-serving U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, a Republican who represented New Mexico from 1973-2009. He was the longest-serving U.S. Senator in New Mexico history, and his final election in 2002 marked the last time a New Mexico Republican was elected to the Senate. 

After serving six terms in the Senate, Domenici declined to run for a seventh, citing health issues. He passed away from complications of abdominal surgery in 2017. 

Few details were available Wednesday about Nella Domenici’s campaign, and neither Domenici nor her campaign could be reached for comment. Ashley Soular, a spokesperson for the Republican Party of New Mexico, said she did not have any information about Domenici’s campaign. 

Nella Domenici has spent her career in business and finance. 

According to her LinkedIn page, she currently serves on the board of three companies: consulting company Cognizant Technology Solutions, investment-management firm AllianceBernstein, and medical data company Change Healthcare. 

Source NM reached out to all three companies but did not receive a response by press time. 

From 2020-2021, Domenici was Chief Financial Officer for Dataminr, a social-media analysis company that courted controversy prior to Domenici’s tenure by helping police spy on social-media users (the company said it ended the practice in 2016). 

Domenici holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. A press release from Cognizant announcing her appointment to the Board of Directors last year says she has “significant experience in strategic finance management, corporate strategy and operations, and capital markets.”

The Domenici family has a complicated political legacy in New Mexican and national politics. 

As senator, Pete Domenici advocated for healthcare coverage for mental illness, sponsoring the Mental Health Parity Act to require insurers to provide equal coverage for mental illnesses. In 1988, he bucked Republican party leadership when he voted to pass the Civil Rights Restoration Act over the veto of then-President Ronald Reagan. 

Domenici faced sharp criticism from environmentalists over his staunchly pro-oil and pro-mining stances, with the League of Conservation Voters calling him “strikingly anti-environmental.” In 2006, a Republicans for Environmental Protection congressional scorecard gave him a -2, tied for the lowest of any U.S. Senator, singling out his support of oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. 

Domenici secretly fathered a son in the 1980s with lobbyist Michelle Laxalt, who was also the daughter of a Senate colleague, publicly admitting to the fact in 2013. That son, Adam Laxalt, served as Nevada’s Attorney General from 2015-2019, and unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2018 and U.S. Senate in 2022. 

In 2020, Laxalt co-chaired Nevada’s Trump campaign and, following Joe Biden’s win in the state, helped lead the Nevada GOP’s unsuccessful efforts to overturn the legitimate election results, and asked a judge to throw out 3,000 Arizona ballots including some cast by active-duty military service members

Domenici had nine children total, including Laxalt and Nella Domenici. 

Nella Domenici’s campaign has registered a website, but as of publication it only reads “Guest Area” and “Please enter password below.” 

Relative political unknown John Thomas Roberts also filed papers Wednesday to run for U.S. Senate. Roberts, a Republican from Anthony, ran for New Mexico State Senate in 2020, losing 66-34 to Democrat Joseph Cervantes. 

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