- Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Lujan will run for Senate in New Mexico to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Udall.
- Lujan, 46, is a member of the House Democratic leadership and led the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during last year's midterms.
- Democrats are favored to keep the New Mexico seat as they try to chip away at the GOP Senate majority.
Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Lujan will run for Senate next year to succeed the retiring Sen. Tom Udall, the congressman announced Monday.
In a video, the 46-year-old Lujan said he would launch a campaign for the 2020 Senate election in his state. Udall, a second-term Democrat, announced his retirement last week.
Lujan, who has served in the House since 2009, led the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last year as his party gained 40 seats and a majority in the chamber. The congressman, who is now the fourth-ranking House Democrat as assistant speaker, highlighted his work at the House Democratic campaign arm during his campaign launch Monday.
"We stood side by side as I led the effort to win back the House, so we could lower prescription drug prices, lower health care costs, fight for clean air and clean water, restore voting rights and equal rights, and build a brighter future for our kids," he said. "But to move forward, we've got to fix the Senate, where Mitch McConnell stands in the way of progress."
In winning back the House in November, Democrats hammered Republicans for their attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Lujan and other 2020 candidates around the country appear likely to make health care their top issue again, especially as the Trump administration backs a lawsuit that would dismantle Obamacare.
Democrats are favored to win the New Mexico Senate race despite Udall's retirement. Nonpartisan forecasters Sabato's Crystal Ball and Cook Political Report rate the seat as "likely" Democratic.
Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate. Democrats aim to chip away at the GOP advantage next year: 22 Republicans face re-election next year, versus 12 Democrats.
Democrat Hillary Clinton won New Mexico by about 8 percentage points in 2016. In last year's midterms, Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small flipped the state's 2nd Congressional District, while incumbent Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich coasted to victory statewide.