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Heinrich, Haaland, Luján join Udall in backing Biden

Members of New Mexico’s all Democratic congressional delegation are rallying around their party’s likely presidential nominee — former vice president Joe Biden — now that he remains the only major party challenger for President Donald Trump.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall was the first member of the delegation to make his endorsement known, making the announcement on Twitter shortly after Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race last Wednesday. His Senate colleague, Martin Heinrich, soon followed, as did Congresswoman Deb Haaland.

“Now more than ever we need a leader that cares for working families, believes in science and puts the American people first. The leader we need is Joe Biden,” Heinrich said in a Facebook post.

“My whole career, I’ve fought for universal health care, a minimum wage increase, and affordable housing. Today I’m proud to endorse @JoeBiden for President because he cares about all of those issues,” Haaland posted on Twitter.

Haaland originally endorsed Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and hit the campaign trail with her in Iowa, New Hampshire and other states before Warren dropped out of the race after the Super Tuesday primaries on March 3.

In announcing his support, U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján said, “Vice President Biden is a person of character and compassion and will bring us together.”

Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small indicated to the Journal she wasn’t ready to make an endorsement at this time. She said she was more focused on making sure that New Mexico residents and businesses received the support they needed to get through the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We still have several months to focus on the election,” she said.

Larry Behrens, western states director for the energy advocacy group Power The Future, criticized Udall’s endorsement.

“As New Mexico grapples with massive unemployment, it is shocking Sen. Udall would endorse a candidate running on a radical economic platform that would further devastate our economy,” he said in a statement to the Journal.

Behrens mentioned statements by Biden during his final debate against Sanders that he would support bans on drilling on federal lands and off shore drilling by the oil and gas industry. He also indicated he would support a ban on fracking, which was being pushed by Sanders.

Those statements would likely be issues on the campaign trail in the U.S. Senate race and the 2nd Congressional District race, which includes part of the oil-rich Permian Basin, which pumps billions of dollars into the state’s economy.

HOUSE GOP-BACKED GROUP POURING MONEY INTO NM RACE: The Congressional Leadership Fund has booked $1.1 million in advertisements against Torres Small in the 2nd Congressional District race.

The race is one of 35 the group is targeting in hopes of returning the House to Republican control. It is spending more than $43 million overall.

The district in the southern part of the state had been traditionally been held by Republicans until Torres Small won the seat with about a 3,000-vote margin over former Republican state Rep. Yvette Herrell.

“This is the first-step towards holding Congresswoman Torres Small accountable for the far-left record she’s adopted since the day she set foot in Congress,” CLF spokesman Will Reinert said. “From Torres Small’s vote to impeach President Trump and selling out New Mexico’s oil and gas workers, it’s clear Torres Small’s radical views just don’t line up with her constituents.”

The race is the most expensive of the three congressional races in the state with the candidates themselves raising hundreds of thousands of dollars. Their fundraising totals are due into the Federal Election Commission for the first quarter of the year on Wednesday.


Scott Turner: sturner@abqjournal.com

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