ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Longtime House Speaker Ben Lujan announced to the opening session of the Legislature today that he has Stage 4 lung cancer and will not seek re-election.
He said he has been receiving treatment, including chemotherapy and radiation, since being diagnosed in November 2009.
Lujan said he believes the lung cancer was due to his previous work an ironworker at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
He apologized for hiding the news from close friends and family members.
“I was hoping to tell you that the cancer was gone, but as you can see it is not,” Lujan said. “While this has taken a toll on me physically, it has not broken my spirit, my will or my commitment to New Mexico.”
Legislators gathered on the House floor wept as the speaker spoke from his chair at the head of the chamber. His chief of staff , Regis Pecos, sat next to him.
House Majority Leader Ken Martinez, D-Grants, described Lujan as a “heroic statesman.”
Gov. Susana Martinez, before delivering her prepared State of the State address, gave Lujan a hug. In remarks directed at Lujan, she then said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with you and New Mexico is pulling for you.”
For earlier reports from the session, go to our legislature page.
Watch the video and view Lujan’s full speech below: