Udall won't run for Senate

Posted 10/05/2007 07:33:00 AM

U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., will not run for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Pete Domenici.

Udall informed close supporters of his decision Thursday evening and released a statement this morning making it official. He said his new seat on the powerful appropriations committee was a factor in his decision.

“The election to replace Domenici in 2008 will be a tough one, but I have every reason to believe I could win it,” Udall said. “I also believe, however, that as I continue to gain in seniority in the House, assume more of a leadership role, assert my authority on the appropriations committee and pass significant legislation like my bill to promote renewable energy, I am in the right place to serve New Mexico and the country.”

As a member of the House, Udall said, he has “consistently stood up against the war in Iraq, against infringements on our constitutional rights and against favors for the special interests.”

“I believe the House of Representatives, the ‘people’s house,’ can fix the mess the administration has gotten us into,” Udall said. “I want to stay in the House and do just that.”

Udall is certainly in a better position than New Mexico’s two other U.S. representatives in that he doesn’t have hotly contested races every two years that require him to raise huge sums of money. For many, six-year Senate terms are more attractive, but Udall is safe in his Democratic stronghold of a district.

Udall’s announcement closes the door on a handful of Northern New Mexico Democrats who were considering running for his House seat if he ran for Senate. In addition, the Bill Richardson factor aside, Udall’s decision means New Mexico Democrats will turn their focus on Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chávez, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish and former Attorney General Patricia Madrid as they consider who will run for Senate.

Santa Fe developer Don Wiviott remains actively in the race as well. He was publicly endorsed this week by former Ambassador Joe Wilson. For the time being, two lesser-known Democrats, Jim Hannan of Santa Fe and Leland Lehrman of Lamy, also remain in the race.

On the Republican side, as I’ve already reported, U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson is expected to announce her candidacy for Domenici’s seat today. New Mexico politicos are anxiously awaiting news of whether U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce will get in the race, and state Land Commissioner Pat Lyons is also actively considering it.

In his statement, Udall praised Domenici.

“I know all New Mexicans and Americans join me in saluting the career and accomplishments of Senator Pete Domenici,” Udall said. “His service to our nation has been remarkable, and we wish him and his family our best.”

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