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Democrat Toulouse Oliver eyes US Senate run in New Mexico

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By RUSSELL CONTRERAS Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver is considering a run for the U.S. Senate, setting up a potentially contentious 2020 Democratic primary with U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan.

Toulouse Oliver campaign adviser Heather Brewer said Thursday the Democrat is talking to residents and will make an announcement later this month about her plans.

"Maggie is looking at the best ways to serve New Mexico and believes there may be an opportunity in the U.S. Senate," Brewer said.

Lujan was the first to declare his candidacy for the Senate seat after Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Udall announced in March he was retiring. Toulouse Oliver would be the state's first female senator.

Attorney General Hector Balderas, U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland and U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small have all have said they would not seek the office. No Republican candidate has announced a run.

A former county clerk in Bernalillo County, Toulouse Oliver was first elected secretary of state in 2015 after a special election. She easily won re-election in 2018 and has been credited with increasing voter turnout during the midterms.

After President Donald Trump was elected, Toulouse Oliver actively spoke out against the Republican's claim of widespread voter fraud.

Lujan was elected to the House of Representatives in 2014 but has not run for statewide office. He represents a sprawling district that covers northern New Mexico and parts of the state's eastern and western sides.

If elected, he'd be the state's first Hispanic senator since 1976.