Valerie Plame isn’t a spy anymore, but she plays one in her latest campaign ad, which looks more like the trailer for a movie about Jason Bourne’s aunt than the start of a congressional run.
The ad, which is reportedly annoying CIA agents who think she’s trivializing their work, begins with Plame reminding voters why her name rings a bell. In 2003, her career as a spy was upended by people within the Bush administration. After her then-husband, diplomat Joe Wilson, wrote a New York Times op-ed criticizing President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq, conservative columnist Robert Novak outed her as a spy.
In 2007, Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, was convicted of lying to the FBI for his role in the Plame affair. And last year, President Trump added Libby to the list of right-wing celebrities to receive a presidential pardon. In her ad, Plame seems to take issue with that. “Mr. President,” she says into the camera, “I’ve got a few scores to settle.”
Another notable moment comes 30 seconds in, when Plame says, “I come from Ukrainian Jewish immigrants.” In 2017, she was accused of anti-Semitism after she shared an article on Twitter with the headline “America’s Jews Are Driving America’s Wars.” She defended sharing the piece in subsequent tweets, writing that the article was “very provocative, but thoughtful. Many neocon hawks ARE Jewish.” Within a couple hours, she’d apologized. “OK folks, look, I messed up,” she tweeted.
Plame is one of a handful of Democrats running in the crowded primary in New Mexico’s Third District, a seat currently held by Representative Ben Ray Luján, who is running for Senate. Plame moved to Sante Fe in 2007 and quickly became part of the city’s charity circuit, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican. Her visibility and name recognition are expected to help in the primary, but one Albuquerque pollster told the New Mexican that she’ll have to grow her base “among Hispanics and Native Americans.”
One thing Plame has going for her at this point is money. As of the last FEC deadline, she had outraised everyone else in the race with just over $236,000. Among those donating to her were Naomi Watts, who played Plame in Fair Game, the 2010 movie based on her life.