Although the Third Congressional District generally is considered to be a "safe" Democratic seat, a Republican who recently moved to Taos will announce Tuesday that he's challenging incumbent Dem Ben Ray Lujan next year.
Rick Newton is a businessman whose career has included high-profile deep-sea recovery projects. According to his campaign website, Newton was involved in the recovery of a nuclear-powered Soviet submarine in the Pacific Ocean, the SS Central America, a steamship that sank in 1857 with an estimated $1 billion in gold, and other underseas projects.
He also helped prepare Soviet nuclear threat assessments for the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT).
Newton currently owns a small security technology company with patents applied for, his campaign manager Ken Scarborough of Taos said in an email today.
Newton has been living in Albuquerque but recently signed a contract for a lease to purchase on a home in Taos, Scarborough said. He has owned other property in the Taos area, Scarborough said.
According to his website and a campaign brochure, Newton not only advocates changing some existing laws, but also amending the U.S. Constitution. He says the 16th Amendment should be repealed to get rid of the IRS, and replace the personal income tax with a flat tax.
He also wants to amend the Constitution to prohibit Islamic Shariah Law and "clarify" the separation of Church and State. Newton would insert language saying “No religion shall advocate the violation of any law found to be constitutional nor engage in any sedition to disobey any such law."
Newton also favors changing the equal protection clause of 14th Amendment to apply on to U.S. citizens, not "any person" as the amendment reads. This is to prevent "anchor babies" -- children born of foreign parents in the U.S. automatically becoming citizens.
In the last election, Lujan’s opponent Tom Mullins raised controversy when he joked in a radio interview about using land mines along the border to stop illegal immigration.
Newton is taking a different approach to that issue. “I have experience in new border security technologies that detect tunnels and safely ‘repel’ those attempting to cross illegally,” his brochure says. “Without harming anyone, my plan treats border crossers with respect and directs them to Points of Entry where they can enter legally. We need and want legal guest workers with specific education and skills. Drug transporters and terrorists can be detected at (points of entry) and dealt with forcefully.”
Lujan is serving his second term in Congress. Newton will be his first challenger, Republican or Democrat, in the 2012 race.