Saying now is “not the time to weaken” Democrats’ position in the nation’s capitol, Tom Udall announced Wednesday that he plans to stay in the U.S. Senate instead of running for governor in 2018.
“President-elect Trump has proposed policies with respect to health care, constitutional rights, immigration, privatizing public lands, and foreign policy that could be devastating to the citizens of New Mexico,” Udall, D-N.M., said in a news release.
“When I was elected to the Senate, I committed to standing up in Washington for New Mexico families to ensure everyone has an opportunity to get ahead and their needs never take a back seat to wealthy special interests,” Udall said. “I believe that pledge is even more important now.”
The decision by one of the state’s most powerful politicians creates a wide open field in the 2018 Democratic primary race to replace Gov. Susana Martinez, who is term-limited from running again. U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham and N.M. Attorney General Hector Balderas are among the Democrats considering running for governor.
On the Republican side, U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, Lt. Gov. John Sanchez and Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry are mentioned as possible candidates.
Look for others to consider the race as well. Among them may be state Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, who has told NMPolitics.net he’s “actively speaking with people about the future leadership of the governor’s office” and “looking at the best ways to advance New Mexico.”
On Wednesday, Cervantes praised Udall’s decision to stay in the U.S. Senate as “more critical than ever with a new Trump administration and the state’s deplorable economic condition.”
“I commend Sen. Udall’s commitment not to give up now on his past efforts to resolve the gridlock we see in Congress,” Cervantes said.
Udall, in his statement, said his seniority, “reform agenda,” and appointments to the Appropriations, Indian Affairs, Commerce and Foreign Relations committees “are indispensable to the well-being of the state.”
“New Mexico depends significantly more on federal funding than it does on state revenue,” he said. “Since I have been in the Senate, we have been able to increase funding for the labs, expand access to public lands, strengthen our military bases, and encourage efforts to grow the state’s private sector.”
And while Udall said he believes he would have “the backing and the experience” to address education, the economy, and other pressing issues in New Mexico as governor, “I have determined, after consulting with my family, colleagues and constituents, that New Mexico will be better served by my remaining in the United States Senate.”
Udall, 68, served in the U.S. House before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008 and re-elected in 2014. He is next up for re-election in 2020.
This is a breaking news article and may be updated.