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Senate candidates base fundraising on Trump visit

President Donald Trump’s campaign organization’s claims that New Mexico could be in play in 2020 has been met with some skepticism.

But some Democrats seem to be taking the claim very seriously even though the state has been trending their party’s way in recent elections.

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján and New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver sent out fundraising pleas for their Democratic U.S. Senate campaigns in response to the president’s visit to Rio Rancho on Monday.

Rep. Ben Ray Luján

“This is the most important email I’ve ever sent you,” the congressman said in a message sent out by his campaign organization, People for Ben. “I just learned Trump is personally traveling to my district. He just announced a huge rally here to turn our state red. Let me make something perfectly clear: I will not allow this President to come into our house and turn our state red.”

Luján made a plea for various fundraising amounts, starting at a $13 contribution.

“I need 2,500 gifts before midnight tomorrow (last Tuesday) to WIN my race, HOLD this Senate seat, and prove he’ll NEVER be able to take this critical state from Democrats,” he said. “I’m counting on your help more than you know. Will you rush $13?”

Toulouse Oliver calls Trump’s campaign appearance a “hate rally.”

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver

“… And we know what to expect: fear-mongering and division, trying to turn us against our neighbors to distract from his corrupt and criminal administration,” she said.

She also pitched contributions of various amounts, starting at $10.

“The venue where Trump’s holding his hate rally can fit up to 7,500 people,” her email read. “So let’s raise that same amount in the next 24 hours. Pitch in to my campaign – help raise $7,500 in 24 hours to send a message that we reject Trump’s hate in New Mexico.”

Luján and Toulouse Oliver both received major endorsements in recent weeks.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the largest trade union of public employees in the United States, endorsed Luján earlier this month.

The New Mexico Working Families Party endorsed Toulouse Oliver in August.

“Congressman Luján has always championed working families and AFSCME is proud to stand with him now,” said Connie Derr, executive director of New Mexico Council 18.

Andrea Serrano, who serves on the New Mexico Working Families Party national committee, said Toulouse Oliver shared the group’s working family values “because she has lived them.”

“As a single mom who lived paycheck-to-paycheck and worked her way through college, Maggie knows the struggles facing most New Mexicans and will fight to improve their lives,” Serrano said.

UDALL HAPPY TO SEE BOLTON GO: U.S. Sen. Tom Udall called John Bolton’s departure as national security adviser “a good thing” on Twitter.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall

The New Mexico Democrat has been a frequent critic of Bolton when discussing the Trump administration’s foreign policy. He told the Journal in an interview earlier this year that Bolton was among the president’s advisers who seemed to be leading the administration to war in Iran.

He posted on Twitter that Bolton should have never been in the position.

“Stopping an unconstitutional war with Iran – & ensuring a responsible withdrawal from Afghanistan – are my top priorities. Bolton’s departure is good news on those fronts,” the senator posted.

Udall has sponsored legislation calling for the end of the war in Afghanistan and a bill requiring Trump to seek permission from Congress before he approved military action against Iran.

Scott Turner: sturner@abqjournal.com

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