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 Defense: Milley reportedly warned Trump against Iran strikes | Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer killed in Afghanistan | 70 percent of active-duty military at least partially vaccinated Biden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Senate Democrats befuddled by Joe Manchin 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 MastoBiden backs effort to include immigration in budget package Biden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Western US airports face jet fuel shortage MORE as the second Mexican American in the Senate and will become the fifth Hispanic alongside Cortez Masto and Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezLobbying world This week: Congress starts summer sprint The Innovation and Competition Act is progressive policy MORE (D-N.J.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate holds sleepy Saturday session as negotiators finalize infrastructure deal Break glass in case of emergency — but not for climate change Democrats join GOP in pressuring Biden over China, virus origins MORE (R-Fla.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet 228 Republican lawmakers urge Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade GOP, Democrats battle over masks in House, Senate 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.