In a video, Lujan said he had been “humbled” by those encouraging him to seek the Senate seat rather than try to continue to ascend in House leadership.
“To move forward, we’ve got to fix the Senate, where Mitch McConnell stands in the way of progress,” Lujan said, referring to the Republican majority leader from Kentucky.
During the last election cycle, Lujan chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the arm of the party that seeks to elect Democrats to the House. The first Latino to hold the post, Lujan has closely aligned himself with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). When she made the choice, Pelosi praised his “political astuteness.”
In January, Pelosi elevated Lujan to assistant speaker of the House, a position she created.
New Mexico is a reliably blue state, and Lujan is the likely front-runner in the race for Udall’s seat. Still, other Democrats are looking at the open seat, too, including U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, as well as New Mexico’s secretary of state, Maggie Toulouse Oliver, and its attorney general, Hector Balderas.
Udall announced last week that he would not seek reelection to a third term in 2020, saying he wants to find “new ways to serve” New Mexico and the country.
Though he said he is confident that he could win another term, Udall said in a statement that “the worst thing anyone in public office can do is believe the office belongs to them, rather than to the people they represent.”
Udall was reelected to the Senate in 2014 with nearly 56 percent of the vote, and New Mexico had trended more heavily Democratic in recent years. In 2018, Democrats won every statewide office on the ballot.