Ben Ray Luján (born June 7, 1972) is the U.S. Representative for New Mexico's 3rd congressional district, serving since 2009. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district is based in Santa Fe, the state capital, and includes most of the northern portion of the state.
Early life, education, and early career
Ben Ray Luján was born in Santa Fe to Carmen and Ben Luján, but currently lives near Nambé, New Mexico. His father is the speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives and his mother is a retired administrator with the Pojoaque Valley school system. He has Lujan family members on both sides of his family and is a distant cousin on his mother's side to Manuel Lujan, Jr., former Republican congressman and Secretary of the Interior.
Manuel Lujan's sister was his second grade teacher.
After graduating from Pojoaque Valley High School, he attended the University of New Mexico and later received a degree from New Mexico Highlands University. Luján has held several public service positions. He was the Deputy State Treasurer and the Director of Administrative Services and Chief Financial Officer for the New Mexico Cultural Affairs Department prior to his election to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.
Public Regulation Commission
Luján was elected to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) in November 2004. He represented PRC district 3 which encompasses northeastern, north central and central New Mexico. His served as chairman of the PRC in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
His term on the commission ended at the end of 2008.
Luján is a strong supporter of renewable energy. He helped to increase the Renewable Portfolio Standard in New Mexico that requires utilities to use 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. Luján also required utilities to diversify their renewable use to include solar, wind and biomass.
Luján joined regulators in California, Oregon, and Washington to sign the Joint Action Framework on Climate Change to implement regional solutions to global warming. While at the PRC, Luján helped develop legislation to prohibit insurance companies from denying individuals coverage for preexisting conditions.
U.S. House of Representatives
In 2008, Luján ran to succeed U.S.
Rep. Tom Udall in New Mexico's 3rd congressional district. Udall gave up the seat to make what would be a successful bid for the United States Senate.
On June 3, 2008, Luján won the Democratic primary, defeating five other candidates. His closest competitor, developer Don Wiviott, received 26 percent to Luján's 42 percent. This victory was tantamount to election in this heavily Democratic district.
Luján faced Republican Dan East and independent Carol Miller in the general election and won with 57% of the vote compared to East's 30% and Miller's 13%.
Luján won re-election against Republican nominee Tom Mullins.
Lujan has been a strong proponent of health care reform, including a public option.
In October 2009, Lujan gave a speech on the House floor calling for a public option to be included in the House health care bill saying “We need a public option - we must demand a public option.”
In June 2009, Lujan voted for an amendment that would require the Secretary of Defense to present a plan including a complete exit strategy for Afghanistan by the end of the year; although, the amendment did not pass. In September 2009 Lujan wrote a letter urging the Obama administration not to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan. Lujan drew on conversations he had with U.S. General Stanley McChrystal and Afghan president Hamid Karzai, when he visited Afghanistan in August 2009, in the letter.
Lujan district contains 15 separate pueblo tribes as well as tribal lands of the Jicarilla Apache Nation and Navajo Nation. In February 2009 Lujan introduced a series of five water accessibility bills that, along with improving access to water for the many communities in the district, would also give federal funds to Indian tribes.
Along with Harry Teague (D-NM) and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) Lujan sponsored an amendment to the House health care bill that would extend the current Indian Health Care system until 2025.
December 22nd, 2011