Ben Ray Luján announces Senate campaign for Tom Udall's seat

By Rebecca Kaplan

/ CBS News

Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-New Mexico, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, announced Monday that he's launching a campaign for the seat of retiring Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, making him the latest lieutenant of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to leave the chamber and forego a bid to one day succeed her.

I'm humbled to announce my candidacy to be New Mexico's next Democratic Senator. I hope I can count on your support as we take this journey together. https://t.co/QlM4S90ele pic.twitter.com/yvrDGYQhVq

— Ben Ray Lujan (@benraylujan) April 1, 2019

"I've been humbled by all of the outreach encouraging me to run and it's been an honor to serve you in the House where we've accomplished a lot together," said Luján in a video announcement Monday morning. "But to move forward, we've got to fix the Senate, where Mitch McConnell stands in the way of progress," he added.

Luján, 46, has served as the representative for New Mexico's third district since 2008. He was elevated to the role of Assistant Speaker — a role with little functional power — after two terms as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, most recently during the 2018 election cycle, when Democrats recaptured the majority they lost in 2010. As the highest-ranking Latino member of the House, he was widely seen as a potential successor to Pelosi as speaker if Democrats keep control of the House in the coming years.

While Luján holds a prominent position on Capitol Hill and would bring major fundraising prowess to the race given the national network of donors he cultivated as head of the DCCC, it may not be enough to guarantee him the opportunity to run unopposed in the primary.

First-term Rep. Deb Haaland, D-New Mexico, told CBS News last week that she is considering a run, and her fellow Democratic freshman, Xochitl Torres-Small, is also reportedly considering a bid. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver has also been mentioned as a potential challenger as has former CIA spy Valerie Plame, who moved to New Mexico after being outed as a spy by members of the Bush administration at the height of debate over the Iraq war. New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announced last week he would not run.

Lujan is the cousin of New Mexico Gov. Michele Lujan Grisham (D), who took office in January and is the nation's only currently-serving Latina governor. New Mexico has the country's highest percentage of Latino residents, according to Pew, but it has not been represented by a Latino senator since the late Sen. Joseph Montoya was defeated in 1976.

Luján is not the only potential Pelosi successor to leave the House in recent years. Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and former New York Rep. Steve Israel all ran for higher office or retired after seeing no pathway around the leadership trio of Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, and Whip Jim Clyburn, D-South Carolina.

Some of that pressure was lifted after Pelosi struck a deal with her critics in December to serve no more than four additional years as speaker. But if Luján wanted the top slot, he would have likely faced competition from House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-New York, and Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Illinois, who are seen as potential future speakers.

CBS News' Ed O'Keefe contributed to this report.

First published on April 1, 2019 / 9:55 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Rebecca Kaplan

Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

Ben Ray Luján announces Senate campaign for Tom Udall's seat

Luján, 46, has served as the representative for New Mexico's third district since 2008

5M ago

Buttigieg announces $7 million fundraising in first quarter

"[W]ith a first fundraising report like this, we certainly cannot be ignored," Buttigieg said in a statement Monday morning

5M ago

Teen fatally shot after knocking on the wrong door in Atlanta

Omarian Banks, 19, accidentally knocked on the wrong apartment door in Atlanta when he was killed

41M ago

Green meteor lights up sky in Florida, Georgia

Videos show the fireball as it fell to Earth, producing a bright green light

49M ago

Federal Reserve pick Stephen Moore cited for unpaid alimony

President Trump's choice for a Fed board position was found in contempt in 2012 for failing to pay $300,000

56M ago

Ben Ray Luján announces Senate campaign for Tom Udall's seat

Luján, 46, has served as the representative for New Mexico's third district since 2008

5M ago

Buttigieg announces $7 million fundraising in first quarter

"[W]ith a first fundraising report like this, we certainly cannot be ignored," Buttigieg said in a statement Monday morning

5M ago

House panel to vote to authorize subpoenas for full Mueller report

The committee will also be moving to subpoena all underlying documents related to Robert Mueller's findings

updated 43M ago

Jet bridge dangers uncovered by CBS News Radio investigation

Maintenance reports of the connectors extending between airport terminal gates and planes reveal damage causing injuries and safety hazards, and even one deadly accident

1H ago

New York approves statewide plastic bag ban

Most single-use plastic bags provided by supermarkets and other stores will be banned statewide starting March 1, 2020

2H ago

Jim Carrey's new painting enrages Mussolini's granddaughter

Actor tweeted a warning against fascism with his latest artwork, depicting the WWII dictator hanging by his feet after his 1945 execution

26M ago

Saudis involved in hack of Jeff Bezos cellphone, security chief says

National Enquirer's parent company, AMI, denies investigator's report, says no third party was involved

1H ago

"You are not numbers to us": On the front lines of the migrant caravans

"Where should we put these people, our migrant brothers?" worries an activist whose job has recently gotten much harder

2H ago

Cholera outbreak after cyclone in Mozambique is now a killer

1st death confirmed from easily-treated disease and officials say number of cases rising quickly, with hundreds of thousands at risk

3H ago

Primary exporter China to ban all fentanyl-related drugs

President Xi Jinping appears to be following through on a promise he made to Donald Trump in the battle to curb the deadly U.S. opioid epidemic

4H ago

Jim Carrey's new painting enrages Mussolini's granddaughter

Actor tweeted a warning against fascism with his latest artwork, depicting the WWII dictator hanging by his feet after his 1945 execution

26M ago

Rapper Nipsey Hussle fatally shot in Los Angeles

The 33-year-old rapper, born Ermias Asghedom, was widely known for his grind as an independent artist

updated 20M ago

A visit to the Metropol, star of "A Gentleman in Moscow"

The 110-year-old art nouveau hotel has welcomed countless famed guests in its day, but one of its most famous is fictional, the protagonist of Amor Towles' bestselling novel

Mar 31

Return to "The Twilight Zone"

A look at Rod Serling's classic science fiction, horror and fantasy anthology series, and its latest incarnation produced and hosted by Jordan Peele

17H ago

Bill Hader on "Barry" and finding the humor in success

The "SNL" alumni talks about his Emmy-winning turn as a hitman, and how he faced the anxiety of performing live

Mar 31

Green meteor lights up sky in Florida, Georgia

Videos show the fireball as it fell to Earth, producing a bright green light

49M ago

Saudis involved in hack of Jeff Bezos cellphone, security chief says

National Enquirer's parent company, AMI, denies investigator's report, says no third party was involved

1H ago

Can America produce a 21st century "moonshot"?

Historian Douglas Brinkley on JFK's famous call to send a man to the moon – and what a patriotic "moonshot" directive might mean for our country today

Mar 31

Biomimicry: Turning to nature for technological solutions

With four billion years of R&D, the natural world offers scientists time-tested answers to addressing problems facing mankind

Mar 31

Doctors raise the alarm about esports injuries

Doctors say competitive gamers should be treated like other college athletes because they suffer injuries, too

Mar 29

6-year-old dies of heart attack while taking baseball photos

The boy was on the field to take a team photo, and then he collapsed

1H ago

Cholera outbreak after cyclone in Mozambique is now a killer

1st death confirmed from easily-treated disease and officials say number of cases rising quickly, with hundreds of thousands at risk

3H ago

Nearly 5,000 students get shots at university amid mumps outbreak

The outbreak on the campus of Temple University has reached the triple digits

Mar 30

Doctors raise the alarm about esports injuries

Doctors say competitive gamers should be treated like other college athletes because they suffer injuries, too

Mar 29

500 measles vaccines given amid state of emergency

Hundreds of people have gotten vaccinated since Rockland County officials took drastic actions earlier this week

Mar 29

Federal Reserve pick Stephen Moore cited for unpaid alimony

President Trump's choice for a Fed board position was found in contempt in 2012 for failing to pay $300,000

56M ago

Aramco profit: Saudi oil company pushes ahead of Apple as the world's most profitable company

The state-run oil company's profits reached $111 billion last year, far ahead of Apple's $60 billion in profits

1H ago

New York approves statewide plastic bag ban

Most single-use plastic bags provided by supermarkets and other stores will be banned statewide starting March 1, 2020

2H ago

Computer issues hitting several major airlines, FAA says

Southwest, United, JetBlue and Delta among them; no immediate word on operations impact but Southwest and Delta said their problems have been ironed out

1H ago

Mark Zuckerberg calls for more outside regulation

The piece comes days after Facebook was criticized after a shooting rampage in New Zealand

Mar 30

Teen fatally shot after knocking on the wrong door in Atlanta

Omarian Banks, 19, accidentally knocked on the wrong apartment door in Atlanta when he was killed

41M ago

Rapper Nipsey Hussle fatally shot in Los Angeles

The 33-year-old rapper, born Ermias Asghedom, was widely known for his grind as an independent artist

updated 20M ago

Stabbing leaves 2 wounded on college campus

A 21-year-old college student is in custody after a stabbing left two students wounded Sunday

16H ago

Man on life support after fight at Dodger Stadium

Christel Reyna said her husband, Rafael Reyna, sustained a skull fracture and is on life support

14H ago

"Race-biased dragnet": Defense claims new twist in case of slain jogger

A reportedly anonymous letter delivered to defense attorneys for Chanel Lewis has prompted accusation of bias

20H ago