At the start of the last Congress, one of the first votes House Republicans took was on a bill designed to unravel protections for workers exposed to chemicals like beryllium. Beryllium is one of the chemicals that poisoned my father’s lungs and caused his cancer.
Watching House Republicans vote against the health and safety needs of people like my father in order to placate special interests left me sick.
That first vote is indicative of the Republican party. Last Congress, House Republicans raised taxes on and stripped health care from working Americans all to satisfy their special interest donors.
Watching House Republicans put the interests of big corporations over hard-working Americans was the reason I worked so hard, as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last year, to elect a Democratic majority – a majority that would put people like my father and my constituents first.
And of this new majority, dozens of candidates – from districts across the country – recognized that in order to change Washington, they’d have to change how we elect the people who serve there. These candidates built campaigns powered by people, not corporations.
It worked, and they won. And now House Democrats – including the most diverse class of freshmen in history – have taken concrete actions to bolster working women and men. Our first major legislative vote: The For the People Act, a sweeping campaign finance package that would drastically curb the influence of big money in politics.
The pride I felt watching that legislation, which I helped shepherd, pass in the House was matched only by the anger I felt when Mitch McConnell announced it was dead-on-arrival in the U.S. Senate. That’s become a common refrain from McConnell – whose dubbed himself the “Grim Reaper” for the good legislation we’re championing in the House.
It’s one of the reasons I’m running for Senate. McConnell’s refusal to address our broken campaign finance system is stifling the voices of the American people.
That’s not how it’s supposed to work. That’s never been my approach to governing – it’s just not the New Mexico way. In New Mexico, we work together for the good of the community. It’s how I’ve spent my time in Congress and how I’ll continue to work in the U.S. Senate. Whether that means securing millions of dollars in opioid treatment funding, protecting the 300,000 New Mexicans with pre-existing conditions, or introducing an ambitious plan to cut greenhouse gases by 60 percent – my work is always for the people.
Today, I’m taking that advocacy a step further: my campaign for the U.S. Senate will not accept corporate PAC money.
This decision is at the core of the kind of campaign I’m running. A campaign run on New Mexican values that is built by the people, not corporations.
It will be a campaign that tackles the most important issues that New Mexicans care about.
I’ve spent more than a decade in public service speaking truth to power on behalf of New Mexican families and communities that haven’t always had a voice in government. I’ve always put people first. I’ve fought to expand health care, solve the climate crisis, lower prescription drug prices, and pass monumental campaign finance reform. And I will work to earn your support to continue fighting on your behalf in the U.S. Senate.
Ben Ray Luján is a Democratic congressman representing the Third Congressional District.