Congresswoman Announces For New Mexico Governor

By John Celock

A Democratic congresswoman has announced her bid to become New Mexico’s next governor.

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham used a video announcement Tuesday to promise a “new beginning” for the state as she kicked off her bid to succeed term-limited Gov. Susana Martinez (R). Lujan Grisham was critical of the two-term Martinez, saying that the governor has ignored the state’s problems.

“After too many years of being pushed backwards it’s no wonder that so many have given up on our state government,” Lujan Grisham said in the video.

Lujan Grisham pointed to the state having the second highest unemployment in the country, along with the condition of schools, poverty, high addiction rates and crime as the failures of the Martinez Administration. She did not mention Martinez by name, rather pointing to the past six years that
Martinez has been New Mexico’s governor and saying that Martinez “refused to acknowledge problems.”
Lujan Grisham pointed to her own record in state and federal government as why she is qualified to succeed Martinez. Lujan Grisham was state aging secretary under former Govs. Bruce King (D), Gary Johnson (R) and Bill Richardson (D) and was state health secretary under Richardson. She pointed to her tenure at the Department of Aging, noting that she worked to improve nursing homes in the state. She also pointed to being a single mother during her tenure at the Department of Health. Lujan Grisham said that during her tenure in Congress she has worked on protecting military and education jobs in the state, along with helping constituents with veterans and Social Security issues.

Lujan Grisham left the health secretary post to unsuccessfully seek a congressional seat in 2008 and then won a seat on the Bernalillo County commission in 2010, before winning a congressional seat in 2012. She was elected to her third term in Congress last month.

She is the first candidate to enter what is likely a competitive race to succeed Martinez, New Mexico’s first female governor. On the Democratic side, state Attorney General Hector Balderas and Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales are both potential candidates. Balderas, who has long had his eye on the governor’s mansion, has high name recognition statewide, owing to his one term as attorney general and two terms as state auditor. Balderas has kept a high profile in both offices.

On the Republican side, Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and U.S. Rep. Steve Pierce are considered potential candidates. Sanchez, who lost the 2002 governor’s race to Richardson, has been positioning himself for a 2018 since his election as lieutenant governor in 2010. Pierce has lost bids for the U.S. Senate in 2000 and 2008.

Lujan Grisham comes to the race with a family history in New Mexico politics. Her cousin, Ben Ray Lujan (D), represents one of the state’s three congressional districts, while his late father is a former state House speaker. Lujan Grisham’s uncle, Manuel Lujan Jr. (R), represented the state in Congress for 20 years and was U.S. interior secretary in the first Bush Administration. Her grandfather, Eugene Lujan, was chief justice of the state Supreme Court.

Lujan Grisham said that she would fight for New Mexicans if elected.

“When it comes to standing up for people who are being hurt and being taken advantage of I will never give up,” she said.