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Democrat Ben Ray Luján wins open Senate seat in New Mexico

Democrat Ben Ray Luján wins open Senate seat in New Mexico
© Greg Nash

Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D) is projected to win New Mexico's open Senate seat on Tuesday, making him the the first Hispanic to represent the state in the upper chamber since 1977.

The Associated Press called the race at 12:25 a.m EST. 

Luján, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, beat Republican Mark Ronchetti for a seat the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rated as "solid Democratic."

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The six-term lawmaker will succeed retiring Sen. Tom UdallTom UdallOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Haaland courts moderates during tense confirmation hearing | GOP's Westerman looks to take on Democrats on climate change | White House urges passage of House public lands package Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated 'by something other than her record' Senate approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee MORE (D-N.M.).

In January, Luján will move across the Capitol after attaining the rank of assistant Speaker, the highest post for a Latino in the House in U.S. history. Previous positions include chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) for the 2018 election cycle, when Democrats won back the House, and chairman of Bold PAC, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus campaign arm.

Luján will join Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoRosen to lead Senate Democrats' efforts to support female candidates OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine The Hill's 12:30 Report: Mars rover prepares for landing MORE as the second Mexican American in the Senate and will become the fifth Hispanic alongside Cortez Masto and Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBiden holds off punishing Saudi crown prince, despite US intel Senate confirms Thomas-Greenfield as UN ambassador The Memo: Biden bets big on immigration MORE (D-N.J.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDeSantis's rising GOP profile fuels 2024 talk GOP senators question Amazon on removal of book about 'transgender moment' CPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be MORE (R-Fla.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGarland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks The Hill's 12:30 Report: Washington on high alert as QAnon theory marks March 4 The Memo: Is Trump mounting a comeback — or finally fading? MORE (R-Texas).

"As the first Hispanic to lead the DCCC, he brought us the majority. As the first Hispanic to be voted by his peers as House Assistant Speaker, Senator-elect Luján has been a relentless advocate for working families to ensure the American dream is still possible for the next generation," said Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), who succeeded Luján as chairman of Bold PAC.

"Ben Ray is a trailblazer and we are going to miss his leadership in the House, but we know he will be a tremendous force for New Mexicans, Latinos, and Americans across the country in the Senate," added Cárdenas.