Updated: July 21, 2020 11:16 PM
Created: July 21, 2020 09:06 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Rep. Ben Ray Lujan ( D–N.M. 3) was first in the U.S. Senate race to pay for television media in the New Mexico market. Lujan is running against Republican challenger and former TV meteorologist Mark Ronchetti to replace retiring Sen. Tom Udall, D- NM.
It’s not entirely surprising Lujan is on air first. Federal campaign finance reports reveal as of June 30, 2020 Lujan had $3,316,789 cash on hand, while Ronchetti had $570,819.
Here’s the verbatim to Lujan’s current political advertisement:
“Growing up in New Mexico working the land, I hear the voices of my family and the generations who came before us. I've always said New Mexico is worth fighting for. That's why I work every day to lower prescription drug costs, help veterans in rural communities get the benefits they've earned, and protect the water that's the lifeblood of our communities. I'm Ben Ray Lujan and I approve this message."
“It's a real kickoff ad to start an election campaign,” said Dr. Lonna Atkeson, a political science professor at the University of New Mexico. “It's classic that way.”
Lujan makes three major claims. The first states, “that's why I work every day to lower prescription drug costs.”
Even though it’s uncertain if every day has been spent on this issue, the 4 Investigates Fact Check process deems that line accurate. Lujan’s voting record shows he has voted in favor of legislation that would have reduced the costs of prescription drugs, including the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Price Now Act. Lujan voted to pass this legislation in December 2019. It would have created caps on drug prices, including insulin.
In early Fall, President Donald Trump indicated he favored this legislation and agreed to bipartisan cooperation, but when the U.S. House of Representatives impeached him, Trump withdrew his support. That led to the republican-controlled U.S. Senate refusing to take up the bill after it passed the House.
Secondly, Lujan claims he works to “help veterans in rural communities get the benefits they've earned.” That’s accurate. Lujan’s voting record indicates sponsored the following legislation:
2020: PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act [HR 4305]
2020: VA Emergency Transportation Act [HR 3350]
2020: Housing Our Heroes Act [HR 2733]
2020: Ensuring Fair Access to Veterans Healthcare Act [HR 2707]
2020: Faster Care for Veterans Act [HR 4352]
2018: Bill to assist veteran farmers and ranchers access USDA services
2016: Amendment addressing doctor shortage at VA facilities
2016: Bill to raise the minimum wage for veterans attending school
2016: Bill to reauthorize rental assistance to homeless Native American veterans
Lujan voted to pass the following legislation:
2020: PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act [HR 535]
2017: VA Choice and Quality Employment Act [S 114]
2014: Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act [HB 3230]
Lujan’s third claim is that he works to “protect the water that's the lifeblood of our communities.” That’s accurate. Lujan’s voting record shows that he has worked on legislation that would have allowed New Mexicans to receive federal funds to maintain rural ditches. He also worked to create funding to clean up the PFAS contamination near Holloman and Cannon Air Force Bases. PFAS is a dangerous chemical found in fire retardant used by the Air Force for decades. The chemicals seeped into the ground and eventually into the groundwater. Holloman Lake near Alamogordo is so polluted with PFAS contamination, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas advised New Mexicans in 2019 to stay away.
Lujan never mentions Ronchetti in this ad. Ronchetti has not yet purchased television media for his general election race. Once he does, his ad will also be subject to a 4 Investigates Fact Check.
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