Dozens of candidates filed to run for their parties’ nominations in statewide judicial and federal races on Tuesday. Candidates who make the official ballot will go in front of voters on June 2. The winners of those primaries will be in the general election on Nov. 3. The state will hold pre-primary conventions in March; at those conventions, candidates who receive a certain amount of support from party members at the convention will automatically make the primary ballot.
Of the nearly three-dozen federal candidates for four races up for grabs in November, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Ben Ray Luján led the campaign finance race, raising just over $1 million in the final three months of 2019. He was followed by 2nd Congressional District Democratic incumbent Xochitl Torres Small, who raised just over $900,000. Torres Small has the most cash-on-hand of any federal candidate: More than $2.3 million. Luján has just over $2 million cash on hand. Torres Small does not currently have an opponent in June’s primaries, while Luján is heavily favored to win his primary against former city of Española finance director Andrew Perkins.
On any given weekday afternoon in Albuquerque just after 4 p.m., on KIVA-FM, listeners can hear the brief hit song from the late 1990s, You Get What You Give, followed by the booming and conservative voice of Eddy Aragon. Aragon makes it very clear he stands far to the right on the political spectrum.
Now, after four years of owning and operating the station that airs his daily show, Aragon said he’s considering running for U.S. Senate—with a stress on “considering.”
“You have to imagine the tremendous sacrifice that I have to consider,” Aragon said. “Being off during the year Donald Trump is running in 2020, that’s a sacrifice to my radio station.”
But he said enough people asked him to consider running that he decided in October to explore the idea.
Tipping things toward a possible run for Aragon is the field of candidates poised to run against U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján. Luján announced earlier this year that he would run for Senate after U.S. Sen. Tom Udall said he would not seek another term next year. Up until several weeks ago, Luján faced New Mexico’s Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver in the Democratic primary.
A prominent anti-abortion activist filed paperwork to run for U.S. Senate on Wednesday. Elisa Martinez, who founded the New Mexico Alliance for Life and is the group’s executive director, is the third Republican to run for the open U.S. Senate seat after filing her statement of candidacy with the FEC. Only one Democrat is currently running for the position. She announced her candidacy in Albuquerque shortly after. If elected, the member of the Navajo Nation would be the first Native American woman U.S. Senator nationwide and the first Latina U.S. Senator from New Mexico.
New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver announced Wednesday she is running for the U.S. Senate. The Democrat has already won statewide races for Secretary of State twice and if she wins in 2020 would become the first woman to represent New Mexico in the U.S. Senate in the state’s history. In a slickly-produced video, Toulouse Oliver emphasized her personal history, including attending college as a single mother and graduating with “a pile of student debt.” She says that as Secretary of State she “took on the Koch brothers and won,” on campaign finance reform. She also said that she supports Medicare-for-all and supports “a Washington that doesn’t separate families at the border.”
In a separate statement announcing her run, Toulouse Oliver also says she supports the Green New Deal. “We need more women in Washington,” Toulouse Oliver said.
A former Trump administration official announced Tuesday that he is running for the open U.S. Senate seat. Republican Gavin Clarkson announced he will run for the seat to replace U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, the Democrat who said earlier this year that he would not seek a third term in the Senate. He is the first Republican to announce his candidacy. “I’m running to share the stories and aspirations of the ordinary people who make New Mexico extraordinary and who just want to see some sympathy in the Senate, and that will mean being in-state as often as possible, so I’m promising to visit every one of our state’s 33 counties at least once a year,” Clarkson said in a statement. He also mentioned his personal story, saying he lost “almost everything” in the 2008 financial crisis then moved to New Mexico “with one cent in my bank account” and started flipping houses—buying houses, fixing them up and selling them at a higher price.
Just about two weeks ago, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall announced that he would not run for re-election. Nearly as soon as he announced his decision, a chain reaction began. Speculation on who would replace him—and who would run to fill the spots of those eyeing Udall’s seat. Note: This story was sent out Tuesday as part of the NM Political Report Elections Roundup. Sign up for the free email.
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall announced last month that he will not seek a third U.S. Senate term. The attention quickly turned to who would be Udall’s replacement. So far, U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan has said he will run, and Attorney General Hector Balderas said he won’t. It’s easy for political reporters to get caught up in the races. But a look back in history can be instructive as well.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announced Thursday that he will not run for the U.S. Senate seat in 2020. Balderas made the announcement on a classic rock morning show in Albuquerque. “I’ve decided to pass on that position and pass on running for the U.S. Senate,” Balderas said, while a guitar riff played in the background on the “Erika Viking & The Hoff In The Morning” show. Many political observers thought Balderas would consider running and might be a top tier candidate in the Democratic primary. Speculation intensified earlier this week when a spokesman said he would make an announcement Thursday morning.
Ben Ray Luján wants New Mexicans to know he’s seriously contemplating running to replace Tom Udall in the U.S. Senate. Emphasis on “seriously.”
Luján is in his sixth term in the U.S. House, and he’s watched other New Mexico representatives move on to other positions. Martin Heinrich won election to the U.S. Senate in 2012. Both Steve Pearce and Michelle Lujan Grisham ran for governor in 2018. Now with Tom Udall leaving the Senate in 2020, Luján may vacate the same seat his predecessor left over a decade ago to once again follow his path to the Senate.