By Tim Reid
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Valerie Plame, a former U.S. intelligence officer whose cover was blown by officials in the administration of former President George W. Bush in the run-up to the Iraq War, said on Thursday she would run as a Democrat for an open U.S. Congress seat in New Mexico.
Plame is seeking New Mexico's 3rd congressional district seat, which is being vacated by Democratic Representative Ben Ray Luján, who is making a bid for the U.S. Senate.
Plame moved to the state after a 2003 scandal involving the Bush administration destroyed her career as an undercover operative for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
"My career in the CIA was cut short by partisan politics, but I’m not done serving our country," she said in a statement. "We need more people in Congress with the courage to stand up for what’s right."
She said her priorities as a candidate would include access to health care and the rising cost of prescription drugs.
Plame joins a growing primary field for the seat, which represents a heavily Democratic district. Three other candidates have announced their bids, and more are expected to follow.
Plame, while working undercover for the CIA, had recommended that the Bush administration send her then-husband, former diplomat Joseph Wilson, to Niger to investigate claims that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had tried to buy uranium for use in the production of weapons of mass destruction.
The Bush administration was attempting to find evidence that Saddam possessed the weapons to justify its planned invasion of Iraq.
Wilson then published an op-ed in The New York Times, entitled "What I Didn't Find in Niger," casting doubt on the Bush administration's rationale for the looming war.
That triggered a fierce backlash from Bush officials.
In private briefings to journalists, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a senior aide to then-Vice President Dick Cheney, outed Plame as the person who had recommended Wilson for the trip, a move that led to her cover being blown.
Libby was later convicted of lying to a grand jury. Bush commuted his sentence, and Republican President Donald Trump pardoned Libby last year.
Plame said she moved to New Mexico "the day after Vice President Cheney’s chief aide Scooter Libby was convicted for his role in outing my true CIA identity."
(Reporting by Tim Reid; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Bernadette Baum)