Two things run deep in Tom Udall’s family: public service and a close connection to the American Southwest.
Tom’s grandmother, Louise Lee, was born in Luna. Long before New Mexico joined the union, her family was part of the territory’s strong ranching culture, driving cattle down the White Mountains to the railroad in Magdalena.
Her son, Stewart (Tom’s father), went on to serve in Congress and as Secretary of the Interior, where he fought to protect our natural resources. And when Tom graduated from the University of New Mexico School of Law, he sought to carry on the Udall family tradition of public service (one that crosses partisan boundaries — Tom counts prominent Republicans among his cousins).
Through his work as a federal prosecutor and Chief Counsel to the New Mexico Department of Health and Environment, Tom worked to make a difference for families in his state. In 1990, he ran for Attorney General, and after being elected, he served two terms as New Mexico’s top law enforcement officer, battling domestic violence, DWI, taking on corrupt politicians (even in his own party), and working to protect consumers.
He brought the same approach to Washington when he was elected in 1998 to represent New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District. Tom’s signature legislation, a national renewable electricity standard, was designed to unleash a new alternative energy economy, creating thousands of jobs in New Mexico and around the nation, while also reducing global warming through the use of alternative sources of fuel.
Tom also worked to expand access to health care, with a particular focus on life-saving and cost-controlling preventive care. He opposed the Iraq War from day one, working to bring our troops home safely and responsibly. And he continued his lifelong commitment to clean government, championing tougher ethics laws — including an independent commission to investigate congressional corruption.
When U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici announced his retirement in 2007, a “Draft Udall” movement grew that helped persuade Tom to run for Senate — and he won with more than 60 percent of the vote. Today, among other priorities for New Mexico, Tom continues to fight for a national renewable electricity standard. Tom serves on five committees, with responsibilities ranging from oversight of our international relations and development efforts, making sure Native Americans’ voices are heard in Washington, and promoting small business innovation and job creation in scientific and technological industries — not to mention continuing the Udall family tradition of working to protect and promote our natural resources.
Lots has changed in New Mexico since Tom’s grandmother’s family raised cattle in what is now Catron County. Today, Tom and his wife Jill live in Santa Fe and have a daughter of their own. But the New Mexico tradition of individual rights, honest leadership, and respect for the land is still alive, as is the Udall family tradition of public service. And Tom is proud to carry all of these traditions forward.