WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) issued the following statement today on the passing of Speaker Ben Luján:
"Our state lost a great leader, and a great friend, yesterday with the passing of Speaker Ben Luján. For over four decades, Ben was a tireless advocate for the people of New Mexico. Ben was a dedicated public servant, and even a devastating illness could not deter him from the job he had committed to do. He remained steadfast in his service to the people of our state, and he was an inspiration to all who knew him.
"Ben came of age in the Great Depression. He knew poverty and hard times first hand. He never forgot where he came from, and he was always a champion for the less fortunate among us. He was a tenacious fighter for education, for workers, for Native Americans, and for health care. His principles illuminated his life, and brightened the lives of all who knew him.
"Ben once said, 'Let us make our time on Earth… worthwhile, and do what's right, and make a difference for the children, our working families, and our elderly.' He lived up to that challenge throughout his life, and he leaves behind a remarkable legacy of service to New Mexico. I was proud to call Ben Luján my colleague and my friend. Jill and I will miss Ben. We extend our deepest condolences to Carmen, and to Shirley, Jackie, Jerome, and Congressman Ben Ray Luján, and all the Luján family."
"On this sad day, I join with all New Mexicans in expressing my condolences to the family of Speaker Ben Lujan," Bingaman said. "While we mourn our loss, we should be grateful for his extraordinary work for the people of New Mexico. We have been fortunate to have had a man of his character serving our State in such an exemplary way and in such an important position for so many years."