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).
|United States Senator|
from New Mexico
November 4, 1964 – January 3, 1977
|Preceded by||Edwin L. Mechem|
|Succeeded by||Harrison Schmitt|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from New Mexico's at-large district
April 9, 1957 – November 3, 1964
|Preceded by||Antonio M. Fernández|
|Succeeded by||Johnny Walker|
|14th and 16th Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico|
January 1, 1955 – April 9, 1957
|Governor||John F. Simms|
Edwin L. Mechem
|Preceded by||Ed Mead|
|Succeeded by||Tibo Chávez|
January 1, 1947 – January 1, 1951
|Governor||Thomas J. Mabry|
|Preceded by||James B. Jones|
|Succeeded by||Tibo Chávez|
Joseph Manuel Montoya
September 24, 1915
Pena Blanca, New Mexico, U.S.
|Died||June 5, 1978 (aged 62)|
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Education||Regis University (BA)|
Georgetown University (LLB)
Family and EducationEdit
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. 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..
Later life and careerEdit
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 State House of Representatives. In 1938 Montoya graduated from law school and was reelected. The following year he was elected the Democratic majority floor leader.
New Mexico politicsEdit
Montoya continued his political ascent with his election to the New Mexico State 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 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 Mexican 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 Redman, also an Albuquerque High School alumni. In 1963 he became a member of the House Appropriations Committee. 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 most memorably, the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, popularly known as the Senate Watergate Committee.
Montoya's most important accomplishment was his work on the Senate Agriculture Committee, where he gained expertise concerning the inspection and regulation of the meat packing industry. This led to an interest in consumer safety and health. He authored numerous pieces of legislation aimed at eliminating unsanitary conditions in the meat packing industry, including the Wholesome Meat Act of 1967, the Wholesome Poultry Act of 1968 and the Clean Hot Dog Act of 1974.
Beliefs and other workEdit
Montoya also worked on behalf of civil rights, education, health care, and alien workers. In the health-care area he supported medicare, medicaid, and introduced a bill to provide bilingual training for those in the health care professions. Montoya also supported environmental protection and programs to assist the elderly. His positions on the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy and the Senate Appropriations Committee allowed him to have a strong influence on maintenance of the federal installations in New Mexico.
Montoya was the only member of the Senate Watergate Committee whose reputation was harmed by his appearance in the televised proceedings of the committee. He came across as dull, spoke in a slow monotone, and at times appeared slow-witted. Comedians joked about him and New Mexicans were embarrassed. In 1976, a year that was a Democratic victory nationwide, Montoya was solidly defeated by Republican Harrison Schmitt 57% to 42%.
Montoya spent the next two years primarily helping Senator Pete Domenici to keep the federal installations in New Mexico open. Montoya died in Washington, D.C. at the age of 62.
- United States Congress. "Joseph Montoya (id: M000876)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- Inventory of the Joseph M. Montoya Papers, 1913–1977, Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico.
James B. Jones
| Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico
| Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico|
|U.S. House of Representatives|
Antonio M. Fernández
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Mexico's at-large congressional district
|Party political offices|
| Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from New Mexico
1964, 1970, 1976
Edwin L. Mechem
| U.S. Senator (Class 1) from New Mexico
Served alongside: Clinton Anderson, Pete Domenici