The news that NARAL Pro-Choice America, which advocates for abortion rights, had endorsed U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján’s campaign for U.S. Senate brought quick responses from two of his potential Republican challengers.
And who can best carry the anti-abortion banner into the general election against the well-funded Democrat – who represents northern New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District – could be an issue heading into the GOP primary next June.
“Ben Ray Luján’s out of touch record includes: refusing to vote to end infanticide, voting to keep abortion up-to-birth legal, and voting to use taxpayer dollars to fund abortion organizations,” Republican candidate Elisa Martinez said. “To protect New Mexico’s values, I brought Democrats and Republicans together and defeated the extreme abortion up-to-birth and infanticide bill, HB 51 (in the state Legislature). In fact, every Democrat State Senator in Ben Ray Luján’s own district voted against HB 51.”
She was one of the most vocal critics of the bill as executive director New Mexico Alliance for Life. The Legislature voted against the measure, which would have repealed the state’s 1969 anti-abortion law, which makes it a crime to end a woman’s pregnancy, except in certain circumstances, such as rape.
But former New Mexico State University professor Gavin Clarkson was quick to point out his position and history with the issue in response to the endorsement of Luján.
“What distinguishes me is I’ve been a lifelong ‘pro-lifer,'” Clarkson said. “Back in the 1980s, I wrote op-eds against Roe v. Wade in the college newspaper and even held a candlelight vigil for the unborn in the center of the campus. Then at Harvard Law School, I chaired the board of a Christian abortion alternative center in Boston. Our mission was to empower young mothers to choose life regardless of personal, family, or financial circumstances.”
He said New Mexico would not be “swayed by a multimillion-dollar abortion industry death cult.”
New Mexico Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce said abortion was an important issue to state residents.
“Our Party’s position will always be to adhere to our family values, our religious freedoms and traditional principles,” he said. Pearce said party candidates “advocate a pro-life position, and we believe all life is sacred.”
Albuquerque contractor Mick Rich – the only other Republican in the race – did not issue a statement after the NARAL endorsement.
PRAISE FOR SANDIA DIRECTOR PICK: Three members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation praised the selection of James Peery as the next director of Sandia National Laboratories. Peery will become director on Jan. 1, taking over for Stephen Younger, who is retiring.
“Dr. James Peery brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Sandia National Laboratories,” Luján said. “I look forward to working alongside him to protect investments in New Mexico’s national laboratories and create opportunities for New Mexicans.”
Luján, who is co-chair of the bipartisan National Labs Caucus, added “I’m committed to supporting the critical work of national laboratories that drives technology innovation and bolsters national security.”
“Sandia employs some of the best and brightest minds in the country and is indispensable to national security, energy research, and science,” said U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. “I look forward to working with Dr. Peery in a unified effort to enhance Sandia’s technical resources in partnership with universities, local small businesses, and the private sector.”
U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland said on Twitter that Sandia Labs “will be in capable hands, so they can continue to do innovative work in solar technology and national security while creating good paying jobs.”
Scott Turner: firstname.lastname@example.org