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TOM UDALL Printer Friendly Page

The Castro Caucus
By Duncan Currie
May 12, 2005


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  • Democratic Senator representing New Mexico
  • Former House of Representatives Member who represented New Mexico's 3rd District from 1999 to 2009
  • Former member of the Progressive Caucus

Democrat Tom Udall was born in May 1948 in Tucson, Arizona, the son of Arizona Congressman (1955-1961) and Secretary of the Interior (1961-1969) Stewart Udall. He is also the nephew of Arizona Congressman (1961-1991) Morris “Mo” Udall. And he is first cousin of Colorado Congressman Mark Udall. All his politician relatives are Democrats except for distant cousin Gordon Smith, who is a Republican U.S. Senator from Oregon.

Udall grew up first in Tucson and later in suburban Washington, DC. He earned an undergraduate degree from Prescott College in Arizona (1970), a Bachelor of Law degree from Cambridge University in England (1975), and a Juris Doctorate from the University of New Mexico (1977). He worked as Law Clerk for the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1977 and as Assistant U.S. Attorney from 1978-1981.

In 1982 Udall ran for Congress in the newly created 3rd District of New Mexico but was defeated in the Democratic primary by Bill Richardson. In 1983-1984 he served as Chief Counsel for New Mexico's Health and Environment Department. And in 1988 he ran for a vacated congressional seat in the 1st District but narrowly lost to Bernalillo County District Attorney Steven Schiff.

In 1990 Udall was elected as New Mexico Attorney General, a position he would hold for eight years until he was elected to Congress. He received support in his congressional bid from the arts crowd, environmentalist groups, and powerful family friends. Udall further aided his own cause by accommodating the demands of the New Mexico Green Party, which can sway elections in that state by winning up to 10 percent of the popular vote when it actively opposes Democrats.

A member of the Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives, Udall went on to win re-election to Congress in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006. According to Americans for Democratic Action, he voted on the left side of legislation 95 to 100 percent of the time. During his House career, Udall voted:
  • against the development of a national missile defense system;
  • against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001;
  • against the post-9/11 anti-terrorism measure known as the Patriot Act;
  • against allowing the U.S. government to use electronic surveillance to investigate suspected terrorist operatives;
  • against a bill permitting the government to combat potential terrorist threats by monitoring foreign electronic communications which are routed through the United States;
  • against an October 2002 joint resolution authorizing U.S. military action in Iraq;
  • against the establishment of military commissions to try enemy combatants captured in the war on terror;
  • in favor of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq immediately and by a preordained date;
  • against President Bush’s 2007 decision to deploy some 21,500 additional U.S. soldiers in an effort to quell the violent insurgents in Iraq;
  • in favor of a proposal to expedite the transfer of all prisoners in the Guantanamo Bay detention center;
  • against requiring hospitals to report (to the federal government) illegal aliens who receive emergency medical treatment;
  • against the Real ID Act, which proposed to set minimal security requirements for state driver licenses and identification cards;
  • against separate proposals calling for the construction of some 700 miles of fencing to prevent illegal immigration along America's southern border;
  • against a proposal to grant state and local officials the authority to investigate, identify, and arrest illegal immigrants;
  • against major tax cut proposals in February 2000March 2000July 2000May 2001May 2003October 2004, and May 2006;
  • against a welfare-reform bill designed to move people off the welfare rolls and into paying jobs;
  • in favor of prohibiting oil and gas exploration in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR); and
  • against a proposal to fund offshore oil exploration along the Outer Continental Shelf.

In 2008 Udall left the House of Representatives to run for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the retiring Peter Domenici. Udall won that election, defeating Congressman Steve Pearce.



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