Lujan Grisham one of two top candidates for health secretary - Albuquerque Journal

Lujan Grisham one of two top candidates for health secretary

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – National news outlets identified Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as one of the two top contenders this week to join President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet as the secretary of health and human services.

Politico, a media company that covers U.S. politics and policy, described Lujan Grisham and former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy as leading candidates to head the department, although a few others are also in contention. The outlet cited as sources more than a half-dozen people on or close to the transition team.

The New York Times on Wednesday also named those two as the top picks for the post.

Both news organizations said the nominee could be named as early as next week.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

Lujan Grisham, a Democrat who was elected governor in 2018, has repeatedly brushed off the speculation in recent weeks.

But she serves as one of the co-chairs of Biden’s transition team, and she has a background in health care policy, contributing to the speculation that she might join the new administration.

Lujan Grisham is a former health secretary at the state level and led New Mexico’s Aging and Long-Term Services Department. She served six years in the U.S. House and two years as a Bernalillo County commissioner.

The governor has repeatedly attracted national attention this year for her aggressive steps to address the COVID-19 pandemic, including the two-week shutdown order in effect through Monday.

Politico reported that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus – a group Lujan Grisham once led – is lobbying Biden to pick Lujan Grisham as secretary of health and human services and that other Latino advocacy groups have also weighed in.

Supporters say Lujan Grisham has strong political skills and experience leading a complex bureaucracy. Murthy, in turn, is a physician and already a top adviser to Biden on the pandemic.

U.S, Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., said Wednesday that Lujan Grisham is a “strong leader who can help put HHS back on track after President Trump’s four years of failed leadership.”

The congressman and governor are not related.

“Since Day One of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Luján said in a written statement, “Governor Lujan Grisham has followed the science to protect the health and wellbeing of New Mexicans. She has a long track record of building consensus in both Santa Fe and Washington, having also served as Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.”

Biden will be sworn in Jan. 20, the day after New Mexico’s 60-day legislative sessions starts. He has already revealed some of his nominees for top jobs – with more announcements expected throughout this month and December. Cabinet appointees must win confirmation by the U.S. Senate to take office.

If Lujan Grisham left office, Lt. Gov. Howie Morales, a former state senator and Democrat from Silver City, would serve the final two years of Lujan Grisham’s term. Other prominent Democrats and Republicans would almost certainly give extra consideration to running for governor if Lujan Grisham left.

Nora Meyers Sackett, a spokeswoman for Lujan Grisham, told the Journal on Wednesday that she had no comment. The “governor is focused on the COVID-19 crisis at hand in New Mexico,” Sackett said.

Other prominent New Mexicans are also the subject of Cabinet speculation. U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland and Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich have been mentioned as potential nominees to head the Interior Department.

If Haaland left Congress, New Mexico would hold a special election to fill the vacancy. If Heinrich left the Senate, the governor would appoint his replacement.

Udall is already retiring, and Luján has been elected to replace him.

The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post also have named Lujan Grisham as a top contender for the Health and Human Services position.

Home » Journal North » Journal North Recent News » Lujan Grisham one of two top candidates for health secretary

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
Suspect in food delivery driver killing arrested in California
ABQnews Seeker
Brandon Chatmon, 20, is charged in ... Brandon Chatmon, 20, is charged in the Oct. 27 death of 54-year-old Vincent Lopez
Interior: $580M headed to 15 tribes to fulfill water ...
ABQnews Seeker
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fifteen Native American ... WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fifteen Native American tribes will get a total of $580 million in federal money this year for water rights settlements, the ...
Albuquerque police tweets slammed by some as intimidation
ABQnews Seeker
Mayor says he supports department’s efforts ... Mayor says he supports department’s efforts against misinformation
Three charged in large-scale drug operation on West Side
ABQnews Seeker
his older brother and the brother’s ... his older brother and the brother’s girlfriend reportedly took the helm. The new management was short-lived. On Thursday agents raided several homes and a ...
Electric Playhouse places bet for second location on the ...
ABQnews Seeker
  Electric Playhouse is placing a ...   Electric Playhouse is placing a bet on Vegas. The Albuquerque-based company that focuses on interactive and immersive play experiences is set to open ...
Lawmakers look at ways to stanch the rise of ...
ABQnews Seeker
Lawmakers showed a bipartisan appetite Friday ... Lawmakers showed a bipartisan appetite Friday to tackle retail theft in New Mexico, which has emerged as a costly problem to businesses — and ...
Lujan Grisham adds to Cabinet as NM celebrates American ...
ABQnews Seeker
James R. Mountain of the Pueblo ... James R. Mountain of the Pueblo de San Ildefonso was appointed Friday to lead the Indian Affairs Department under Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. The ...
ABQ woman sentenced to 12 years in wife’s 2019 ...
ABQnews Seeker
An Albuquerque woman who fatally stabbed ... An Albuquerque woman who fatally stabbed her wife was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison after pleading no contest to second-degree murder in ...
The nitty gritty of Roth IRA conversions
ABQnews Seeker
Roth IRAs offer many benefits over ... Roth IRAs offer many benefits over traditional IRAs. I have written previous articles, encouraging readers to build their Roth IRAs through contributions or conversions. ...