SANTA FE – In a new year in a new-look district, Alexis Martinez Johnson is once again setting her sights on Congress.

A Republican who won her party’s nomination for the northern New Mexico-based 3rd Congressional District in 2020, but was soundly defeated in that year’s general election, Martinez Johnson announced Monday she plans to try again this year.

At a news conference outside the state Capitol, she accused the Democratic-controlled Legislature of trying to mute the voices of some rural voters during a special session last month focused on redrawing political boundary lines.

But she said the new-look 3rd Congressional District, which will now include parts of the oil patch, in addition to Santa Fe and other traditionally Democratic-leaning parts of northern New Mexico, make her a good fit as a candidate.

“I think this district really encompasses my life experience,” said Martinez Johnson, who lives in Santa Fe, but was born in Portales, raised in Roswell and worked in the Permian Basin as an environmental engineer.

Martinez Johnson also ran unsuccessfully for Santa Fe mayor last year, but told reporters voters could be looking for change this year due to discontent with inflation and rising energy prices.

“It is time for New Mexicans to make a change and let New Mexicans decide their futures, not Washington, D.C.,” she said.

Martinez Johnson was cited by Santa Fe police last summer for refusing to wear a face mask while campaigning outside, but she said Monday she is vaccinated against COVID-19 and supports the wearing of face masks in indoor public settings.

The 3rd Congressional District has been a Democratic stronghold since its creation roughly 40 years ago. Only one Republican, Bill Redmond of Los Alamos, has been elected to represent the district and he was defeated in 1998 after holding the seat for only about 18 months.

The current incumbent, Democrat Teresa Leger Fernández of Santa Fe, won election to the seat in 2020 after it was vacated by Ben Ray Luján, who instead was elected to an open U.S. Senate seat.

Leger Fernández reported having roughly $266,000 in her campaign account at the end of September and sent out a fundraising appeal after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the congressional redistricting plan into law saying the district could be pivotal to Democrats’ hopes of retaining control of the U.S. House in 2022.

Some national election forecasting sites have projected that the 3rd Congressional District will be more competitive under the redrawn map, although Republicans have blasted the new map as a blatant example of gerrymandering.