WASHINGTON — New Mexico Democratic Sen. Tom Udall is stepping aside from the Senate after 2020, making him the first Democratic senator to announce plans not to seek reelection this cycle.
Udall framed the decision as far from his swan song in public life, arguing that he could be more effective without the constraints of having to run for reelection and adding he will "find new ways to serve New Mexico and our country after I finish this term."
"The worst thing anyone in public office can do is believe the office belongs to them, rather than to the people they represent. That’s why I’m announcing today that I won’t be seeking re-election next year," he said in a statement.
"I see these next two years as an incredible opportunity. Without the distraction of another campaign, I can get so much more done to help reverse the damage done to our planet, end the scourge of war, and to stop this president’s assault on our democracy and our communities."
Udall is the third senator to announce he's leaving the body after the 2020 election—Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander and Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, both Republicans, are retiring too.
The New Mexico lawmaker comes from a storied family in New Mexico and has been serving in Congress since 1999, first in the House before he was elected to the Senate in 2008. Udall's cousin, Colorado Democrat Mark Udall, served with him in both the House and Senate as well before his defeat in 2014.
In his statement, Udall says he made the decision despite feeling "confident" he'd be able to run a strong race for a third term. Even without an incumbent, Democrats appear to be favored to retain the seat in 2020.
President Trump lost New Mexico in 2016 by 8 points, Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich won his 2018 reelection by 23 points, and Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham cruised to victory in the open 2018 governor's race, winning by 14 points.