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Luján has new challenger for Senate

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

An accountant who once served as the city of Española finance director is challenging Congressman Ben Ray Luján for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 U.S. Senate race.

Andrew Perkins joins Luján and Republicans Gavin Clarkson, Elisa Martinez and Mick Rich in the race to succeed Democrat Tom Udall, who is not seeking election to a third term.

U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Perkins

Perkins was dismissed as Española’s finance director in 2009 amid claims of problems with the city’s budget. He was also a subject of sexual harassment complaints, according to a story by the Rio Grande Sun.

But Perkins told the Journal he was dismissed “because I exposed a $400,000 embezzlement scheme” involving city employees.

Perkins’ dismissal was also linked to inappropriate sexual comments and disrespectful language during his brief tenure, but he said he wasn’t aware of sexual harassment complaints. According to a story by the Sun, two formal complaints of sexual harassment and disrespectful language were confirmed on the record by Perkins himself as part of his testimony during the termination hearing for former Española police officer Vince Crespin.

“It’s all hearsay,” he said. “They can say what they want. I wear my integrity on my sleeve.”

Perkins said he is running for Senate because he can represent the interests of New Mexico residents “better than my opponent, who is entrenched in Washington politics and is a protégé of Nancy Pelosi.”

Luján’s campaign, however, said the 3rd Congressional District representative “has delivered for New Mexico.”

“His strong record of advocating for economic opportunities, investments in our state, and resources for our families resonates with our communities,” campaign spokesman Brad Elkins said. “Democrats here know Ben Ray and trust him to do what’s right for New Mexico. We are confident that voters will choose Ben Ray to serve in the U.S. Senate because they are inspired by his vision and advocacy.”

Perkins said he supports “a green deal, Medicare for all and a standard of living that includes a living wage (of at least $20), a safe living environment free of violence and oppression.”

“I will run a fair and vigorous campaign from the Four Corners region to the Permian Basin; from Union County to the Bootheel of our nation’s fifth-largest state in land area,” he said.

Perkins said he will not accept donations from political action committees. Luján has not accepted corporate PAC donations during his senatorial campaign.

Perkins had served as a volunteer for the Democratic Party of Santa Fe. Born in California, he lived in New Jersey before moving to New Mexico in 1998.

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