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ABQ Journal: Nella Domenici wants to bring a Republican voice to New Mexico's congressional delegation

By: Cathy Cook / Journal Staff Writer | Jun 23, 2024 Updated Jun 29, 2024

Nella Domenici has a famous last name and a desire to serve New Mexico.

“My whole family is very service focused, so that was always a goal for me,” said Domenici, 63.

The daughter of the late former, longtime New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici, she is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich for the seat this November.

Both candidates were unopposed in their primaries. Domenici was happy not to face competition on the Republican side; she views herself as a centrist and didn't want to be pushed right by GOP opposition.

Domenici has never held public office and this is her first political campaign, but she invested in polls as she considered running against Sen. Ben Ray Luján in 2020 and running for governor two years ago. Before wading into this race, she saw that public sentiment was shifting. Cost of living has become a more pressing concern for voters, and Domenici believes that people are eager for a change.

She said that the state needs politically balanced leadership. New Mexico’s congressional delegation is entirely Democratic, as is the governor’s office.

Domenici’s first two campaign ads highlight her father’s legacy, her childhood in New Mexico and that she is a mom and a businesswoman. They do not address policy positions, but her campaign website does — with her stances on border security, energy, crime, abortion and Second Amendment rights.

Domenici said she would have a multi-pronged approach to energy policy focused on reliability, affordability, job growth and energy’s role in national security. She accused Heinrich of wanting to “destroy the oil and gas industry.”

"Martin Heinrich’s style and his career and his whole modus operandi has been to focus very narrowly on the environmental aspect of it, and the way I would think about it is the environmental aspect is just one of many legs that needs lots of serious consideration. But it doesn't own the issue, and it can't dominate the issue,” Domenici said.

Recently, she was headed to Artesia to celebrate 100 years of oil and gas in the Permian Basin. Domenici has also made campaign stops in Mora and Las Vegas and is working on an idea for legislation she wants to pitch to state legislators that would put state funding toward making the victims of the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire whole, then ask the federal government to reimburse those funds.

Domenici has a high-powered résumé. She was chief financial officer for one of the world's largest hedge funds, Bridgewater Associates, CFO for artificial intelligence company Dataminr and most recently an independent director for consulting firm Cognizant Technologies. Domenici is the second former Bridgewater executive to run for Senate this year. Former Bridgewater CEO David McCormick is a Republican candidate for Senate in Pennsylvania.

Domenici has owned a home in Santa Fe for almost 20 years but spent much of that time working and living in Connecticut and New York.

"Even when I lived there, we had a home here,” Domenici said. “My grandmother had a home here. I was constantly coming back. I was involved in all sorts of philanthropic work. ... I had a consulting company with my father here for a few years.”

In 2020, the Santa Fe home became her primary residence, she said. According to property records, Domenici and her husband still own a $5.9 million condo on Fifth Avenue in New York and a $4.1 million waterfront home in Stamford, Connecticut, that was listed for rent in February for $40,000 per month.

Domenici said where she has lived is the wrong question. She points to the support she and her husband, Patrick McDonough, have given a nonprofit they helped found, Excellent Schools New Mexico, which helps fund charter schools. They have donated at least half a million dollars to the nonprofit over the past seven years, and McDonough sits on the board of directors.

“I think we’ve done more for education in this state as a private-sector person than Martin Heinrich has done as a congressman and a senator all this time,” Domenici said.

Domenici said she would vote against a federal ban on abortion. She’s accepted the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and make abortion access a state level decision. She wants to shift the political conversation from what stage of pregnancy at which abortions should be legal to preventing unintended pregnancies.

“The best way to prevent abortions and to prevent all the issues that go into when, how, why should someone have an abortion, but just to prevent all that, is to improve birth control and improve the access to birth control — to trust and respect women,” Domenici said.

Domenici said she would support protecting access to in vitro fertilization and more federal funding for research on women’s health.

“There's many, many issues that women have that still haven't been researched. Products haven't been developed for them. They haven't been funded. And it's everything from menopause to postpartum depression to strokes to Alzheimer's. ... The other part of this problem is there’s not as much venture capital going into women’s health care products. It's only been in the last two or three years that’s occurred,” Domenici said.

Domenici declined to answer if she will cast a vote for former President Donald Trump in November. She describes herself as an independent thinker and said she would not attach herself 100% to any leader.

When Trump was convicted on 34 felony counts in May, Domenici released a statement saying, “It is a sad day in our country when Americans see our justice system weaponized. Thankfully there is an appeals process that can correct miscarriages of justice. We stand at an unprecedented time, with our country growing more and more divided each day. This must end.”


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