March 26, 2019

Who might run to replace Tom Udall in the Senate?

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Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.

After U.S. Sen. Tom Udall announced he was not seeking a third term in office, speculation immediately began over who would run to replace him in 2020.

Hours after Udall’s announcement, Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball moved the seat from “Safe Democratic” to “Likely Democratic.” That means the political prognosticating outlet believes something out of the ordinary would have to happen for Democrats to lose the seat.

While Udall and his colleague in the U.S. Senate, Martin Heinrich, each won their seats in races without an incumbent, it is exceedingly rare for that to happen in New Mexico.

So it’s no surprise that the list of Democrats who could run to replace Udall is lengthy, even after Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller took himself out of the running.

Some high profile political figures that have either said they are considering a run, or are said to be considering a run are below. If we received a statement that mentioned a potential run, we included it below:

  • Attorney General Hector Balderas: “Today’s focus is on Senator Udall and I’m grateful for his service as we continue to work together improving the lives of New Mexico children and families. After discussions with my wife and family, I will provide any updates at the appropriate time.”
  • Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver: “The future–in politics and in life–is often unpredictable, but my commitment to serving the people of New Mexico is unwavering. As a result, every decision I have made and will make about my work for our state will be based on how I can best use my skills and experience to move New Mexico forward.”
  • U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan: “I am humbled by the outpouring of support I received today. In the weeks to come, I will speak with my family, New Mexicans, and supporters about the opportunity to serve our state in the U.S. Senate.”
  • U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland: “Thank you for love and encouragement New Mexico! I hear you, and I’m giving the Senate race a lot of thought and consideration. I’ll let you know when we’ve got news to share!” (via Twitter)
  • Former gubernatorial candidate Jeff Apodaca
  • 2nd Judicial District Attorney Raul Torrez

Democracy For America, a liberal group active in elections, told NM Political Report that Haaland and Toulouse Oliver “have strong profiles with progressives in New Mexico.”

Republicans, of course, are also considering running for the open seat. Here are names NM Political Report has heard are considering a run for the seat.

  • Former U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce
  • Former Lt. Gov. John Sanchez
  • Former U.S. Senate candidate Mick Rich: “Like everyone, I am done with politicians who think their wealth or family name entitle them to elected office. I’m done with hateful identity politics that divide our communities by race and faith, and that distract from New Mexicans’ real needs: good-paying jobs, safe communities, and an education system that works for our children. Whether or not I decide to run, I will work tirelessly for our shared vision of a prosperous, healthy, strong New Mexico”
  • Former Secretary of State candidate Gavin Clarkson

There could be more candidates who are considering a race and many people will likely not ultimately choose to run.

The Libertarian Party will lose its major party status after not fielding a gubernatorial candidate in the 2018 general election, but could still seek to place a candidate on the ballot in the U.S. Senate race.

In the past, candidates have made up their minds quickly when a Senate seat opened up. Heather Wilson, for example, reportedly decided to run even before Pete Domenici officially announced his retirement in 2007. Wilson was very close to Domenici.

Update: Added a statement from Mick Rich

Update 2: Added a statement from Deb Haaland.