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FARMINGTON — U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, announced today that he will not seek reelection in 2020.

In a message released this morning, Udall said he believes he could win another term “but the worst thing anyone in public office can do is believe that the office belongs to them, rather than to the people they represent.”

Udall has represented New Mexico in the Senate since 2008. He previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives and as New Mexico Attorney General.

“When I first ran for Senate, I promised that I would give my all for the people of New Mexico,” Udall said. “And I reminded myself that this Senate seat is not my seat. It is New Mexico’s seat.”

While he will not seek a third term, Udall says he intends to find new ways to serve New Mexico as well as the country.

Udall highlighted policies he aims to address during the remainder of his term. He said he will lead the fight against special interests, push to pass the For the People Act intended to strengthen voting rights, work to end Citizens United and eliminate dark money from political campaigns.

“In fact, I see these next two years as an incredible opportunity,” Udall said in a message released this morning. “Without the distraction of another campaign, I can get so much more done to help reverse the damage done to our planet, end the scourge of war, and to stop this president’s assault on our democracy and our communities.”

His full message can be read at medium.com/@SenatorTomUdall. 

New Mexico, Navajo and local leaders react to Udall's announcement

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham described Udall as a “tireless champion of New Mexico values” in a press release.

“He has fought for our water, for our lands, for our people, and his voice has been a consistent beacon of leadership and moral clarity in turbulent times,” she said.

She highlighted his work to protect the environment and preserve natural resources.

San Juan County Democratic Party Chairwoman MP Schildmeyer said Udall will leave big shoes for the next Senator to fill.

She said his biggest contribution to the Four Corners region has been his focus on environmental issues, such as methane emissions and oil and gas leases near Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

“Sen. Udall has always focused his attention on what to do with those issues,” she said.

Udall has opposed the rollback of methane regulations and pushed for a 10-mile buffer zone that would prevent oil and gas leases surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

San Juan County Republican Chairman Drew Degner said he wishes Udall the best and said it can be hard for people to be public servants. He thanked Udall for serving New Mexico, however he said Udall did not do much to represent constituents in San Juan County.

“He’s voted with his party for the most part,” Degner said.

Udall currently serves as vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and has sponsored various bills focused on issues that impact Native American communities.

“Honorable Senator Udall has always been a great champion for the Navajo Nation,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez. “We will miss his sincere and strong leadership when he leaves office, but until then we look forward to continuing to work together with him and his office.”

Udall has pushed for public lands, Native American issues

Udall and the New Mexico delegation introduced a bill this month that would increase Native American access to voter registration sites and polling locations and would authorize use of tribal ID cards for voting purposes. This is the second time Udall has introduced this bill.

He has also sponsored a bill this year in reaction to President Donald Trump reducing the size of national monuments, including Bears Ears National Monument in southwest Utah. The bill would make it so only Congress has the authority to modify the boundaries of a national monument. It would also expand Bears Ears National Monument to the boundaries proposed by the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition – a coalition of tribes including Navajo Nation that consider the Bears Ears region sacred and petitioned President Barack Obama for the national monument.

Udall also pushed for a public lands package that was signed into law this month. This public lands package included a 2,250-acre expansion of the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area located south of Farmington.

In addition, Udall has pushed for financial compensation for people impacted by the 2015 Gold King Mine spill and has advocated for policies to improve the federal government’s response to missing and murdered indigenous women.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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