SANTA FE, New Mexico — Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján won election Tuesday night to the U.S. Senate in New Mexico.
Luján, a six-term congressman from northern New Mexico, defeated Republican former television meteorologist Mark Ronchetti and Libertarian scientist Bob Walsh.
Luján rose to the No. 4 position in Democratic House leadership and ran uncontested in the primary. His election Tuesday to succeed Sen. Tom Udall as he retires marks a resurgence of Latino political leadership in a state with the largest share of Hispanic residents.
On the campaign trail, Luján emphasized support for consumer health protections under the Affordable Care Act and criticized President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout.
Luján said it will be up to the next Congress to prop up small businesses and “to ensure that there is going to be a vaccine that everyone can get at no cost. That way, it’s not unaffordable to people across the country that choose to take the vaccine.”
Luján also has presented himself as a proponent of new investments in clean-energy infrastructure projects and a supporter of the environmental efforts pursued by Udall, the son of former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall.
Ronchetti — a television-savvy, first-time political candidate — also seized on themes of law-and-order and cast himself as an ally of police and sheriffs departments.
Voters cast more than 890,000 on Election Day, easily surpassing New Mexico’s previous record of 833,000 ballots in the 2008 presidential election.