Speaker Luján battling cancer, won’t seek re-election
Update, 1:25 p.m.
Click here for the full text of Luján’s speech.
Ben Luján, the Nambé Democrat who has served as speaker of the N.M. House of Representatives for more than a decade, is battling cancer and is severely weakened.
Despite that, he is in the House chambers this afternoon to preside over the opening ceremonies for the 30-day legislative session that begins today. His plans for the rest of the session aren’t immediately clear.
Luján revealed the illness during a speech moments ago.
“One week after our 50th wedding celebration, in October 2009… I was not feeling well. I went to see my doctor. One month later, November of 2009, with Carmen and my children at my side, a medical team of doctors at the University of New Mexico cancer center gave me a prognosis that I had stage 4 lung cancer,” Luján said.
Despite undergoing treatment for more than two years, through two regular legislative sessions and a tough re-election battle, the cancer isn’t gone, Luján said.
He said he won’t seek re-election later this year.
Luján has served in the House since 1975 and has been speaker – arguably the state’s most powerful legislator – since 2001. He’s been challenged by members of his own party twice for that position, but both attempts were unsuccessful.
He is loved by some and considered notorious – or worse – by others. Regardless, there’s no doubt he’s had a huge impact on the Roundhouse and the state.
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