Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Speaker Lujan Announces He Has Lung Cancer, Won't Seek Re-election

Shortlly after convening the House of Representatives today, Speaker of the House Ben Lujan confirmed he is battling stage 4 lung cancer.

He said he was first diagnosed in 2009. He apologized to friends, family and other legislators for keeping his condition secret for so long. The speaker said that he had undergone chemotherapy through 2010 and later went through radiation therapy as well.

He said it was rough when undergoing the treatment to endure attacks on "my leadership and integrity." Lujan in 2010 survived a close primary challenge for re-election, then faced a challenge for the speakership by Rep. Joe Cervantes, D-Las Cruces.

Lujan, who has been speaker since 2001, told a somber House that he would not seek re-election. He said his cancer has increased his awareness that Democrats and Republicans need  to work together for the betterment of the state.

"We can't sacrifice education for partisan politics," he said.

He received a standing ovation from both sides of the aisle after the speech.

Carl Trujillo, who came close to beating Lujan in the 2010 Democratic primary, has announced he is running for Lujan's seat, which the Speaker has held since the mid '70s.

UPDATE: 2 p.m Trujillo's campaign released this statement:

 "We fully anticipated this possibility and we wish Mr. Lujan and his family well. We plan to make no changes to our campaign. We have always considered our opponent to be the entire political machine, not just one man. More than ever, now's our time to create the change we need."

Here's a copy of Lujan's speech.

NM House Speaker Ben Lujan's Announcement That He Has Cancer

UPDATE 1-18-12 9:20 am;  My full story on Lujan's speech is HERE

Also check out Trip Jennings' article about what happens next. That's HERE