- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 14, 2016

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico has its first contender in the 2018 governor’s race.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced her candidacy Tuesday, becoming the first to declare intentions to replace second-term GOP Gov. Susana Martinez. She cannot run again because of term limits.

In an online video message juxtaposed with appeals for campaign contributions, Lujan Grisham described a long list of social and economic problems that have afflicted New Mexico for decades and accused the current governor of ignoring the issues. She emphasized her Hispanic family roots in New Mexico and qualifications as a two-term congresswoman and former head of New Mexico’s Department of Health.

“We won’t solve our problems overnight, that’s why this is a beginning,” said Lujan Grisham, of Albuquerque. “New Mexico is a place of enormous potential - in our economy, our schools, our people and our culture.”

No Republicans have entered the race for governor so far.

State Attorney General Hector Balderas says he is giving serious consideration to a run. Balderas’ campaign account had a balance of $490,000 as of October.

Potential Democrat contenders initially gave a wide berth to U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, who announced last week that he will not run for governor after consulting with his family, colleagues and constituents.

Lujan Grisham was recently chosen as chairwoman of the congressional Hispanic caucus. She focused her successful fall congressional campaign on New Mexico’s lagging economy and efforts to improve behavioral health care in a state with the nation’s second-highest unemployment rate, surging Medicaid enrollment and high rates of opioid-related deaths.

She is an outspoken supporter of the Affordable Care Act and immigration reform that would provide a pathway to citizenship.

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