Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico has said you can call it a “pretty good guess” that he will run for re-election in 2020 without making any kind of announcement nor commitment.
Sounding like he is running without making any announcement, Udall had this to say:
“Knowing that we have a split Congress and we have a Republican president for the next two years, we need to try and look at the areas where there is common ground, and one of the areas would be to move down the age of Medicare to 55. A lot of those people are the people who aren’t getting insurance today. So between 55 and 65, let people buy in.”
Udall said he regards expanding health insurance coverage as essential to reducing overall costs for medical care.
At the federal level, Udall expressed hope that Republicans in the Senate majority will agree to lower the age of Medicare eligibility by 10 years for people who want to buy coverage.
The current age of Medicare eligibility is 65 with limited exceptions.
DECADES OF SERVICE
Senator Tom Udall is now 70 and has been around New Mexico politics for close to 40 years.
Udall was born in Tucson, Arizona, is the son of former Secretary of Interior Stewart Udall and he came to New Mexico to attend UNM law school.
Udall started his career in the United States Attorney’ Office for the District of New Mexico as an Assistant United States Attorney.
In 1982, Udall ran for Congress in the newly created 3rd district, based in Santa Fe, and most of north of the state and lost the Democratic primary to Bill Richardson.
In 1988, Udall ran for Congress again, this time in an election for the Albuquerque-based 1st district seat left open by retiring twenty-year incumbent Manuel Lujan, but lost to Bernalillo County District Attorney Steven Schiff.
In 1990 Udall ran for Attorney General of New Mexico, and served two full 4 years terms.
Udall ran for Congress again in 1998 in the 3rd district against conservative Republican incumbent Bill Redmond, who had been elected in a 1997 special election to replace Richardson and Udall defeated Redmond with 53% of the vote.
Udall was elected four more terms to congress with no substantive opposition including running unopposed in 2002.
In November 2007, then Congressman Tom Udall announced he would run for the Senate seat held by retiring six-term incumbent Republican Pete Domenici.
New Mexico’s other two members of the House, 1st and 2nd district’s Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce, ran in the Republican primary.
Pearce won the Republican nomination, and lost to Udall, who won 61% of the vote.
Senator Udall won election to a second term to the Senate in 2014 and has now served in the US Senate for 10 years.
Less than two years ago, Udall was saying he wanted to return to New Mexico and run for New Mexico Governor, decided against it, and Michelle Lujan Grisham then announced for Governor.
On July 25, 2018, it was reported that Senator Tom Udall has a 46% approval rating, a 30% disapproval rating, with 23% undecided.
You can review the poll at this link:
HOPING FOR ANOTHER GIG
The New Mexico political scene has at least 3 highly ambitious elected officials that are often mentioned as running for Tom Udall’s Senate seat in the event he decides not to run again for the Senate and retire.
Attorney General Hector Balderas was just elected to a second term as Attorney General and served two terms before as State Auditor for 8 full years and was a NM State Representative from Wagon Mound.
Balderas ran against Senator Martin Heinrich 6 years ago and he still probably has aspirations to be a US Senator from New Mexico and has also expressed an interest in running for Governor.
Mayor Tim Keller has successfully completed his first year as Albuquerque Mayor, he has done a respectful job but he has expressed more than once a desire to run Governor and more than one source has said he now has national ambitions.
Keller has a reputation of being politically impatient and an opportunist.
Political pundits observe that Keller moved into his former State Senate District to run against a vulnerable incumbent, was elected twice but did not serve his full second term from the International District to run for State Auditor, moved out of his state senate district immediately after being elected State Auditor, and then served less than two years as State Auditor to run for Mayor of Albuquerque all 4 runs for office within 8 years.
Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez is completing his second year as Bernalillo County District Attorney and he will have to run for reelection in 2020 or he can run another office.
Torrez has had very mixed reviews from the New Mexico bar because of his severe criticism of Judges blaming them at one time for our high crime rates.
Notwithstanding, thus far Torrez is perceived by the public as doing a very good job and likely will get elected again in two years if he runs because of the extensive media coverage he gets.
Torrez’s chances for reelection could all change overnight with his handling of the prosecution of the 9-year-old Victoria Martens Case, the child who was murdered and dismembered.
NOWHERE TO GO BUT THE US SENATE WAITING ROOM
In the event that Tom Udall does in fact run for another term as US Senator and perhaps unopposed he will serve another full 8 years as the Senior Senator from New Mexico and would be 78 years old and likely retire at that point, but still don’t bet on it if his health holds up.
Many United States Senators serve into their 80’s and 90’s, especially if they are in the majority party, as they become intoxicated with power.
Michelle Lujan Grisham was just elected Governor of New Mexico and it is more likely than not that she will be get elected again in 2022 and serve a full 8 years and perhaps run for United States Senate herself someday.
Balderas is term limited and will not be able to run for election as Attorney General in 2022 and very doubtful he would ever run against incumbent Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Keller is up for reelection in 2021, and again it is very doubtful he would months later run against incumbent Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in 2022.
One huge long shot is that there will be an opening in the United States Senate if Martin Heinrich, who was just elected to his second six-year term, somehow is appointed as a Cabinet Secretary if a Democrat is elected President, but it will be Governor Lujan Grisham who would appoint his replacement, and she could appoint herself.
With United State Congressman Ben Ray Lujan winning his recent election by a landslide and now being elected to a leadership position as fourth in command in the United States Congress, it is likely he will serve many, many more years in Congress and continue to serve in Washington.
Debra Haaland was just elected to the United States Congress and any incumbent is difficult to beat, especially the First Native American Woman ever elected to the United State Congress.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
You can call Hector Balderas, Raul Torrez and Tim Keller “The Three Amigos” because they have so much in common with each other especially a burning ambition for higher office that motivates them and a lot of what they do in their jobs.
Eight years to wait to run for yet another higher office is very difficult if you are very young, highly ambitious and opportunistic like the 3 amigos.
Both Attorney General Hector Balderas and Mayor Tim Keller would not have to give up their current elected positions and could run for US Senate against Udall if they really wanted to without any risk to their current jobs.
Both Balderas and Keller have the ability to raise the kind of money to wage a campaign for United States Senate and they both have high approval ratings.
Balderas raised close to $1 million for his second term election bid.
Keller and his measured finance committees raised and spent $1.3 million to get Keller elected Mayor of Albquerque.
Both Balderas and Keller also have high positive name identity and strong support within the progressive wing of the Democratic party who got them elected to the positions they now hold.
Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez may conclude that it just may be easier to run a statewide race for United States Senate and not deal with the volatility of the District Attorney’s office and career ending cases such as the Victoria Martens case.
Torrez also has the potential to raise the money for a US Senate run.
Two years ago, Torrez raised and spent $500,000 to run for District Attorney, which also included over $100,000 from George Soros.
Udall is viewed as a “corporate Democrat” by many within the party with a reputation of showing up only during election time to promote himself, but he no doubt has the ability to raise what he needs for another Senate run.
Former United States Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman both knew when it was time to move on and retired and did so at the height of their game, but not Tom Udall.
All too often elected officials do not recognize they have overstayed their welcome and instead of moving on they lose an election trying to hold on for any number of years because they are intoxicated with the power they have had for so many years and cannot give it up.
Anyone of the three amigos could view Udall as vulnerable because of his high unfavorability rating and decide that running against Udall may be their last and only opportunity or hope to go up the food chain of politics in New Mexico.
Get ahold of your odds maker, place your bets and stay tuned New Mexico!