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Diego Zamora (R-NM)

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Diego Zamora

Senator for New Mexico (Republican)




Full Name: Col. Diego Alberto Zamora Cardenas (Ret.)

Avatar: Brian Sandoval

Date of Birth: August 13, 1955 (60 in 2015)

Place of Birth: Albuquerque, NM

Place of Residence: Las Cruces, NM

State and Class: New Mexico, Class 2

Party: Republican Party

Ideology: Moderate

Religion: Roman Catholic

Family History:

  • Parents: Ricardo Zamora and Ana Cardenas (m. 1947)
  • Wife: Carmen Zamora (nee Fernán; m. 1979)
  • Children: Enrique (b. 1981) and Isabel (b. 1984)

Educational History:

  • Albuquerque High School (1969-1973)
  • United States Military Academy at West Point; Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering (1973-1977)
  • Harvard Business School; Executive Master of Business Administration (1997-1999)

Occupational History:

  • First Lieutenant; US Army (1977-1979)
  • Captain; US Army (1979-1983)
  • Major; US Army (1983-1987)
  • Lieutenant Colonel; US Army (1987-1991)
  • Colonel; US Army (1991-1997)
  • Secretary; New Mexico Department of Veterans Services (1999-2003)
  • Commissioner; Doña Anna County (2003-2007)
  • Mayor; Las Cruces (2007-2011)
  • Lieutenant Governor; New Mexico (2011-2015)
  • Senator; New Mexico (2015-Present)


Detailed Biography:

Born to a family of Spaniards that had lived in the region of New Mexico for many centuries, Diego Alberto Zamora Cardenas grew up in a middle-class family. His father, Ricardo, who had served in the Pacific Theater of World War II, returned to Albuquerque to operate the family book publishing business. There, he met Ana, an immigrant from Mexico. After the couple's marriage in 1947, they had a total of six children; Diego was their third.


 At Albuquerque High School, Diego was full of fervor about the raging war against communism, which he saw as contrary to Christian teachings and the value of his own nation, the United States. He joined the Junior ROTC, and was an Eagle Scout. Diego was eventually nominated to attend the US Military Academy at West Point, where he studied Mechanical Engineering.


Out of West Point, First Lieutenant Zamora branched Field Artillery. After training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Zamora would serve abroad in South Korea and West Germany. As a young Major, he saw action in the American intervention in Grenada (Operation Urgent Fury), serving as support of the 82nd Airborne Division. Zamora saw further action in the Gulf War, before he was assigned to White Sands Missile Range as Executive Officer of the Test Center Command. He became Commanding Officer of the White Sands Missile Range, Test Center Command, in 1991, a post he held until his retirement from the Army after 20 years of dutiful service.


At 42, retired Colonel Zamora decided to pursue an executive graduate degree, with an eye towards entering the private sector. While at Harvard Business, he forged a fast bond with New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson's deputy chief of staff. After Johnson was re-elected, Zamora was appointed cabinet Secretary for the New Mexico Department of Veterans Services. He proved an effective administrator of a large, statewide system.


As Johnson's term was expiring, Zamora, who had always been a moderate Republican, decided to run for Commissioner of Doña Anna County, where he had lived while at White Sands. After Zamora won, he again proved himself as a capable leader of the county. After that term expired, he decided to run for Mayor of the City of Las Cruces, New Mexico – a city known for moderate, if somewhat left-leaning, politics. The retired Colonel, drawing on broad-based support from the nearby military community he had once led and his expertise as county commissioner, won the election.


As his mayoral term was coming to a close, he weighed his options for statewide office or potentially re-election. By this time, his ties to Doña Anna district attorney Susanna Martinez and former New Mexico GOP Chairman Allen Weh, himself former military, were quite strong. Both candidates sought the gubernatorial nomination and both privately urged Zamora to seek the Lieutenant Governor nomination for the Republican Party. Diego ended up winning the primary, and on a ticket with Martinez, and won by about 40,000 votes, carrying many traditionally moderate counties.


As Susanna Martinez was seeking re-election in 2014, she wanted a running mate who hailed from a different part of the state than she did. She urged Diego Zamora to consider running for the US Senate seat held by freshman Tom Udall.


While Udall had a moderate name recognition advantage over Zamora, the retired Army Colonel appealed to a number of centrist groups in New Mexico while maintaining ties with the grassroots of the Republican Party. Zamora won a large share of the Hispanic vote after promising to pursue immigration reform that is equitable for all parties involved, highlighting his own history as the son of both an immigrant mother and a long-standing New Mexican father.


After narrowly squeaking by with a victory in one of the closest elections in the 2014 cycle, Senator-elect Diego Zamora is preparing to take the oath of office as a United States Senator and looks forward to bipartisan cooperation and commonsense solutions to issues facing New Mexico and the entirety of the United States.

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Just a heads up... you do not take office until Saturday with the new Congress. You okay with getting approved and waiting to be able to vote? 

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