Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) announced Monday 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, a former congressman and state attorney general, 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.
New Mexico’s three House members, all Democrats — Deb Haaland, Xochitl Torres Small, Ben Ray Luján — are viewed as potential successors.
Another potential candidate is Hector Balderas, the state’s Democratic attorney general who is considered a rising star.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee said with Udall’s announcement, Republicans believe the state could be competitive in 2020.
“The Democratic Party’s lurch toward socialism has even longtime Party leaders running for the hills. The people of New Mexico deserve a Senator who will fight for more jobs, lower taxes, and safer communities and we look forward to fielding a strong candidate in the New Mexico Senate race,” Jesse Hunt, the group’s communication director, said in a statement.
Udall said in his statement Monday that he is committed to working through the end of his term.
“I see these next two years as an incredible opportunity,” he said. “Without the distraction of another campaign, I can get so much more done to help reverse the damage done to our planet, end the scourge of war, and to stop this president’s assault on our democracy and our communities.”
In a statement late Monday afternoon, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) called Udall “a class act in every way.”
“His leadership in the Senate on reforming the campaign finance system, protecting the environment, advocating on behalf of Native communities, shepherding legislation to protect Americans from harmful chemicals, and so much more has been invaluable. He will be greatly missed in the Senate,” Schumer said.
David Weigel and Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.