Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) won a seat in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, beating Republican Mark Ronchetti to replace retiring Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.).
Ronchetti said that he called Luján to congratulate him on his win, which was 51 to 46 percent.
Prior to winning the Senate seat, Luján served in the U.S. House from 2009. Luján rose to the No. 4 position in Democratic House leadership and ran uncontested in the primary.
On the campaign trail, Luján emphasized support for consumer health protections under the Affordable Care Act and criticized President Donald Trump’s handling of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic and its economic fallout.
Luján said it will be up to the next Congress to prop up small businesses and “to ensure that there is going to be a vaccine that everyone can get at no cost. That way, it’s not unaffordable to people across the country that choose to take the vaccine.”
Luján has presented himself as a proponent of new investments in clean-energy infrastructure projects and a supporter of the environmental efforts pursued by Udall, the son of former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall.
Joe Biden’s statewide election victory without a campaign visit to New Mexico extends a string of victories for Democratic presidential candidates.
Trump had dispatched federal agents to Albuquerque amid his criticism of local Democratic leaders for their handling of crime and public safety issues in the months leading up to the election.
Ronchetti—a television-savvy, first-time political candidate—also seized on themes of law-and-order and cast himself as an ally of police and sheriff’s departments.
Voters cast more than 890,000 votes on Election Day, easily surpassing New Mexico’s previous record of 833,000 ballots in the 2008 presidential election.
Luján is now the fifth Latino senator, joining Democrats Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, and Republicans Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.