Friday, November 18, 2011

Ben Ray Gets Dem Challenger

Sean Closson
A 25-year-old Santa Fe artist and hotel worker is challenging incumbent Democrat Ben Ray Lujan in next year’s Democratic primary.

Sean Closson, a political novice is challenging Lujan, currently serving his second term in Congress, announced his candidacy in a column published in the well-known national liberal website The Daily Kos.

“I'm here to represent the people who don't have lobbyists,” he said in the Nov. 5 column. “People who are struggling just to make rent and feed their families. People who get foreclosed on, even when they did everything right. People who's job gets sent overseas, or can't afford gas to heat their homes, or who have to hide in the shadows of society because they don't have the right paperwork. The people who, up to this point, have borne all the consequences of the recession, while those who are the best off reap record profits and enjoy unparalleled freedom to buy our elections.”

On his website he wrote, “They’ll try to smear me, destroy me personally, convince people I’m a bad person, a socialist, a hippy, a nut job, whatever will stick. Come at me, bro. I don’t care.”

Closson, who now works at a local hotel, was unemployed for several months after his temporary job with the U.S. Census ended.

He says that his experience being unemployed gives him a good perspective for representing the district. “I'm not someone who at some vague point in the distant past experienced some economic hardship. I'm someone who was on unemployment in 2010,” he said in the column.

Closson also criticizes Lujan for co-sponsoring the Stop Online Piracy Act. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, would give the U.S. Justice Department and copyright holders more power in fighting intellectual property theft. Supporters say it’s needed to stop theft. Critics say the bill could lead to censorship of the Internet.

“Under this act, sites like Google, YouTube, and Twitter could all be shut down by the Department of Justice for linking to infringing content,” Closson said in a statement. “... It's too broad, it's draconian, and it would destroy the Internet as we know it today.”

Defeating an incumbent is rarely easy. Lujan, who faced no primary opposition in 2010, already has amassed more than $280,000 in campaign contributions, according to his latest report filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Closson said he comes from a military family that moved several times during his youth. He went to high school in North Carolina and college in Florida, where he  graduated from the Ringling College of Art & Design.

He moved to Santa Fe in the summer of 2008. He said he chose this town because it's the second largest art market in the country.

While Closson is attacking from the left, Lujan also got a Republican challenger recently Businessman Rick Newton of Taos, whose career has included high-profile deep-sea recovery projects, announced his candidacy late last month.