SANTA FE, N.M. — U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján — the No. 4 ranked Democrat in Congress — announced his campaign Monday for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2020.
Democrats hope to maintain their hold on to the seat held by Sen. Tom Udall, who announced last week that he won’t seek a third term.
Luján hails from a prominent New Mexico political family and helped his party retake the U.S. House majority in 2018 midterm elections as former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
He announced his Senate bid Monday on Twitter, touting his record on voting rights and consumer protection while criticizing the Senate’s Republican majority leader.
“To move forward we’ve got to fix the Senate where Mitch McConnell stands in the way of progress,” Luján said.
Luján is the first politician to declare his candidacy for the Senate seat. Udall won it in 2008, succeeding Republican Pete Domenici.
Democrats last year consolidated complete control of New Mexico’s Washington delegation by flipping a Republican-held seat in southern New Mexico and winning every statewide elected office.
Some of the state’s prominent Democratic office-holders already have indicated they will not compete for the Senate seat.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas last week ruled out a Senate bid, citing personal and professional reasons, and Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller has said he is focused on his current job.
Luján currently holds the northern New Mexico congressional seat that was a political stepping stone for Udall and Democrat Bill Richardson — the former governor, U.S. Cabinet secretary and U.N. ambassador.
Luján first won election when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, supporting Obama’s recession-era stimulus package and health care overhaul.
In his Senate bid announcement, Luján emphasized his efforts to lower health care costs and his support for environmental protections.
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