SANTA FE — Democrat Damian Lara — an Albuquerque attorney with expertise in immigration and tax law — launched his campaign Tuesday to succeed Michelle Lujan Grisham in the U.S. House.
Lara, 39, joins a crowded primary race that already features four other Democratic candidates.
“I am running for Congress because I believe in a better New Mexico,” Lara said in a written statement. “And I believe New Mexicans deserve better.”
The race is wide open because Lujan Grisham, also a Democrat, plans to run for governor next year rather than seek re-election in the 1st Congressional District.
Joining Lara in the campaign to succeed her are Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis; Albuquerque physicist Dennis Dinge; former state Democratic Party chair Debra Haaland; and former University of New Mexico law school associate dean Antoinette Sedillo Lopez.
No Republicans have formally entered the race yet.
Lara is president of the New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association.
He has served as deputy Bernalillo County assessor, staff attorney for the state Legislative Council Service and legal clerk for the governor’s counsel under Bill Richardson.
Lara now works in private practice, specializing in immigration and family law. He lives in Albuquerque with his wife, Iris.
“I will fight for high-quality healthcare that is affordable for all and a better economy that creates better jobs for the middle class,” said Lara. “I will also work hard for better immigration policies that protect the economy but also protects family unity. I commit to fighting for better a better criminal justice system, including in our tribal courts, as well as better educational opportunities and better infrastructure to Indian Country and rural New Mexico.”
The primary election is in June next year.
The 1st Congressional District covers Albuquerque and a chunk of the central part of the state.