Congressman running for Senate

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By Don Pace

Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., stopped in Las Vegas on Saturday to ask voters for their support in his run for the U.S. Senate. It was the last day of a three-day swing around the state for an official announcement to enter the race for a seat left vacant by retiring Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M.

Udall told the Optic, “This was a difficult decision, but the people of New Mexico helped me make it. The people of New Mexico said, ‘Tom, you’ve served us well for nine years. Now you’ve got to run for the Senate because you can win; nobody else can win it.’ Especially when Gov. Richardson took himself out, people said, ‘You’re the only one who can do it now.’ So I was drafted; it was a very sincere draft, and I’m going to work as hard as I can to fight for things people in New Mexico care about.”

Udall said since Domenici announced his retirement, he was inundated with phone calls and people urging him to run for the vacant seat.

Addressing about 60 people gathered at the Spic & Span, the nine-year veteran of the House of Representatives said, “You don’t see something like this very often, a true and sincere draft movement — every place I went they said, ‘Run, Tom, run.’ You all got me into this, so are you going to get me over the top?” Udall asked to applause.

Udall said he has received assurances from the leaders in the Senate that they would help him help New Mexico during the time when he is gaining seniority.

Udall said the Senate is a smaller institution where senators have a lot more power to get things done.

“There are two senators from New Mexico, and likewise there are two senators from New York, so you have an enormous state and a small state and we have equal power in the United States Senate.”

In his welcoming address, San Miguel County Democratic Party Chairman Martin Suazo said in the recent past, there have been visits from five presidential candidates, various senators and congressmen, and Udall has always been one who has been here for the people. He said Udall was one of the few in Congress who was against the war from the beginning and has always fought for veterans’ rights and benefits.

He called Udall the next U.S. senator from New Mexico.

Udall said there have been 40 votes taken in the Congress on Iraq. He said that each time, the Senate waters them down. Regarding foreign oil, Udall said imports threaten the economy and national security. He said big corporations “rule the roost” in Washington and income for the middle class is shrinking. “One vote in the Senate can make a difference,” Udall said.

Udall said it has hurt him to see what has happened in the United States since 9-11 with the massive expansion of executive power at the expense of ordinary citizens.

“They’re using all of those laws to prosecute ordinary people. They told you they were going to use them against terrorists — those laws undermine the Constitution, the Fourth Amendment, and we have got to stand up and take back the Constitution, and I want to do that with you. One more vote in the Senate will make a difference,” Udall said.

The congressman said the big difference between himself and all of his opponents is that he works to bring people together.

“I even work with Republicans. We need positive campaigns; we need a positive vision. I want to be a person who uplifts everybody and says where are we going, what is our dream, how do we empower your community, how do we make you much better, not drag you down in the mud. Abraham Lincoln used to say, ‘Appeal to the better angels of our nature.’ That’s what I want to do.”