Joseph Montoya

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Joseph Montoya
Joseph M Montoya.jpg
United States Senator
from New Mexico
In office
November 4, 1964 – January 3, 1977
Preceded byEdwin L. Mechem
Succeeded byHarrison Schmitt
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Mexico's at-large district
In office
April 9, 1957 – November 3, 1964
Preceded byAntonio M. Fernández
Succeeded byJohnny Walker
14th and 16th Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico
In office
January 1, 1955 – April 9, 1957
GovernorJohn F. Simms
Edwin L. Mechem
Preceded byTibo J. Chávez
Succeeded byEd V. Mead
In office
January 1, 1947 – January 1, 1951
GovernorThomas J. Mabry
Preceded byJames B. Jones
Succeeded byTibo J. Chávez
Member of the New Mexico Senate
In office
Member of the
New Mexico House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Joseph Manuel Montoya

(1915-09-24)September 24, 1915
Pena Blanca, New Mexico, U.S.
DiedJune 5, 1978(1978-06-05) (aged 62)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseDella Romero
EducationRegis University (BA)
Georgetown University (LLB)

Joseph Manuel Montoya (September 24, 1915 – June 5, 1978) was an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who served as the lieutenant governor of New Mexico (1947–1951 and 1955–1957), in the U.S. House of Representatives (1957–1964) and as a U.S. senator from New Mexico (1964–1977).

Early life and education[edit]

Montoya was born in Peña Blanca, New Mexico. His parents, Thomas and Frances Montoya, were Roman Catholic descendants of eighteenth-century Spanish settlers to New Mexico.[1] He received his early education in public schools in Sandoval County and graduated from Bernalillo High School in 1931. He continued his education at Regis College in Denver, Colorado. In 1934, he began law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

In 1936 at age 21, while Montoya was still at Georgetown, he became the youngest representative in the history of the state to be elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives. In 1938, Montoya graduated from law school and was re-elected. The following year, he was elected the Democratic majority floor leader.


Montoya was elected to the New Mexico Senate in 1940, once again becoming the youngest member of that body ever elected. By the time he left the Senate in 1946, Montoya had been twice reelected to the State Senate and held the positions of majority whip and chairman of the Judiciary Committee. From 1947 to 1957 he was elected Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico three times[2] and also served two additional terms in the State Senate.

In 1957 Montoya was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in a special election after the sudden death of the recently reelected New Mexico Congressman Antonio M. Fernández. In Congress, Montoya gained a recognition as a political moderate, a dedicated Democrat, and a diligent legislator — qualities that earned him the esteem of his fellow legislators and made him an effective congressman. In 1962, he defeated Republican Jack C. Redman, M.D.

In 1963, he became a member of the House Appropriations Committee where he was a strong advocate of education measures and soon authored the Vocational Education Act. In 1964, he sponsored the Wilderness Act, which protected wilderness areas. Montoya won the 1964 Senate election to complete the term of Dennis Chavez, who died in office. Montoya won even though the Governor of New Mexico, Edwin L. Mechem, had resigned the governorship in order fill the seat temporarily. Thus began a twelve-year career in the Senate, where he served on the Appropriations Committee, the Public Works Committee, the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, and Senate Watergate Committee.

In 1976, a year that was a Democratic victory nationwide, Montoya was defeated by Republican Harrison Schmitt 57% to 42%.


Montoya died in Washington, D.C., at the age of 62.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Spanish Americans, Lives and faces
  2. ^ State of New Mexico (July 2012). Kathryn A. Flynn (ed.). 2012 Centennial Blue Book (PDF). Diana J. Duran. Office of the New Mexico Secretary of State. pp. 218–219. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 24, 2015. Retrieved April 6, 2013.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico
Succeeded by
Preceded by Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Mexico's at-large congressional district
Seat 2

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from New Mexico
(Class 1)

1964, 1970, 1976
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 1) from New Mexico
Served alongside: Clinton Anderson, Pete Domenici
Succeeded by