Hector, say it ain’t so. We need you.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas dimmed our hopes of proper representation when March 28 he announced he would not run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Tom Udall. Udall said he would not run for re-election in 2020.
While the Democratic faithful continue to worship at the feet of the great fundraiser U.S. Congressman Ben Lujan, we’d like to think New Mexico deserves and could select a much higher caliber U.S. senator than Lujan.
Reading the fluff pieces over the past week fawning over Lujan, the phrases most liberally used are “rising star,” “meteoric rise” and “fundraiser.” While accurate depictions, no one is talking about a great piece of legislation he passed, how he helped his congressional district or what projects he’s spearheading.
His staff excels at putting his name on press releases stating he got us this money or that funding for some project. Taking credit for spending taxpayer money does not a leader make.
Looking at the others considering the run it’s a who’s who of Washington retreads and past state office-holders who peaked in the past few years.
The only solid possible candidate is New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver. She's had a few missteps during her time as Secretary. She tried to stop Steve Pearce’s federally raised campaign funds from being used in his gubernatorial race, and tried to force a straight ticket option on the 2018 general election ballots.
But overall Oliver has done a solid job. She easily won re-election in 2018, beating Gavin Clarkson 399,000 to 257,000. Ginger Grider was a distant third, with 34,500 votes.
It didn’t hurt that Clarkson screamed at campaign rallies all over New Mexico that Oliver “weaponized her office.”
Oliver has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in political science from University of New Mexico. She’s worked as Bernalillo County Clerk and held an adjunct professor post in the political science department at her alma mater.
Lujan has a diploma from New Mexico Highlands University signed by his buddy Javier Gonzales, former mayor of Santa Fe. Lujan serves on the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, Subcommittee on Health, Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection and Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.
He’s never chaired a committee. If you read different online biographies, you’ll find more about his mom and dad than anything he’s done.
This is apropos as his dad, the late New Mexico state representative Ben Lujan, worked out our congressman’s political future with the Democratic party.
The younger Lujan’s strength is he’s a good Democrat. He votes with the party every time, regardless of whether it’s good for New Mexico. That’s how he keeps the seat.
New Mexico needs a strong, educated, experienced leader to take Udall’s place. Balderas checks all the boxes and then some.
We understand his devotion to family but hope he’ll reconsider. If he won’t, our next hope rests with the state democratic party realizing Lujan is good enough for largely forgotten District 3 but lacks the gravitas to be a U.S. senator and someone who can actually do something for New Mexico.
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