U.S. Rep. Tom Udall
, D-N.M., who will likely consider running for the Senate seat being vacated by GOP giant Pete Domenici
next year, called the outgoing senator a “statesman and skilled negotiator.”
“Throughout his distinguished career in public service, Senator Pete V. Domenici has worked hard for all New Mexicans. He will leave the United States Senate as New Mexico’s longest serving member, earning a reputation as a statesman and skilled negotiator,” Udall said in a statement released through a spokeswoman. “Although we have not always seen eye-to-eye on every issue, we have worked together in the best interest of the state, and I look forward to working with him for the remainder of this Congress.”
“I think I speak for all New Mexicans in thanking him for his leadership and service,” Udall said. “Jill and I join all of New Mexico in wishing him, his wife Nancy and their entire family all the best in the future. We’re all grateful for his half-century of public service to New Mexico.”
A spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman said a statement is in the works. The offices of Reps. Steve Pearce and Heather Wilson have not responded to requests for comment.
Udall’s statement gave no indication about whether he might jump into the Senate race, but, other than Gov. Bill Richardson, Udall is perhaps the top-tier Democrat in the best position enter the Senate race. The possible late entry of Richardson has kept other top-tier Democrats from entering the race thus far, but Udall, like Richardson, can transfer money from his current campaign fund to a Senate campaign if he decides to run because both races are federal.
Udall could wait until late February or early March to learn whether Richardson is going to drop out of the presidential race before deciding whether to declare his candidacy for re-election to his House seat or to jump into the Senate race. In the meantime, Udall can continue raising money that he could use for either race.
At the end of June, Udall had more than $700,000 in the bank.
Richardson has insisted he’s not interested in the Senate seat, but that was before news of Domenici’s retirement. Udall, who recently secured a coveted seat on the House Appropriations Committee, will likely buy his time, knowing he doesn’t want to give that up unless the right situation presents itself.
Update, 5:30 p.m.
Bingaman’s office released this statement:
“As our longest-serving senator in the history of New Mexico, Pete Domenici has earned a position of great respect in our state and in Washington. He continues to represent New Mexico with great effectiveness and vigor,” the state’s junior senator said. “I look forward to working with him on efforts to help our state and nation during the remainder of this Congress. I consider him a good friend and greatly admire his public service to the people of New Mexico.”
Labels: 2008 election, Domenici's retirement, U.S. Senate race, Washington