SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Senator Tom Udall announced Monday he will not seek re-election in 2020 in a move that opens up a secure Democratic seat to competition.
The second-term senator and former congressman said in a statement he is confident he could run a strong campaign but preferred to look for new ways to serve the public, without specifying how.
The decision marks an end to a 20-year political career on Capitol Hill for Udall, who first was elected to Congress in 1998.
Udall’s father was Stewart Udall, who served as Interior Secretary in the 1960s and helped write far-reaching conservation legislation. And his uncle was Morris “Mo” Udall, a longtime Arizona congressman and a prominent Democratic 1976 presidential contender.
Since 2017, Udall has helped organize resistance in Congress to attempts by the administration of President Trump to roll back development restrictions on public lands, while defending the regulation of heat-trapping gasses linked to climate change.
The 70-year-old Senator from Santa Fe said he’ll dedicate the final two years of his term to fighting climate change, protecting public lands and to trying “to stop the president’s assault on our Democracy and our communities.”
“The worst thing anyone in public office can do is believe the office belongs to them,” Udall said in a videotaped message . “There will be more chapters in my public service to do what needs to be done.”
In 2008, Udall readily defeated then-U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce to take Democratic control of a Senate seat held for 36 years by Pete Domenici, who retired when diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease and died in 2017.
New Mexico’s junior senator, Democrat Martin Heinrich, last year won re-election to a second term last year, easily defeating Libertarian former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and Republican political newcomer Mick Rich.
Democrats consolidated control of New Mexico’s delegation to Washington in November elections, when U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small last year flipped a district in the south of the state that was long dominated by the GO