Two Udall Cousins Win Senate Seats in New Mexico and Colorado

There have been only 10 known pairs of cousins in the U.S. Senate.

By SHARE
TH_PR_081103interactive_election.png

Historians have work to do, after two cousins—Mark Udall from Colorado and Tom Udall from neighboring New Mexico—captured U.S. Senate seats in Tuesday's elections. Both wins are Democratic pick-ups.

There have been only 10 known pairs of cousins to serve in the Senate, the last being Delaware's Henry and Thomas du Pont at the start of the last century. The du Ponts, though, like all but two of the pairs, did not serve at the same time, according to the Senate Historical Office.

The Udalls are Democrats. Interestingly, their Republican cousin—incumbent Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon—also was on the ballot Tuesday, but he is by no means a shoo-in.

Both Udalls were elected 10 years ago to the House. Both are mountain climbers. Their victories, then, represent the most thrilling ascents of their political careers. They hail from a political family with a potent name and deep roots in the West.

Mark Udall, 58, faced a tough fight for an open seat against Republican Bob Schaffer, a former House lawmaker. The Colorado seat, opened up with the retirement of Republican Sen. Wayne Allard, was one the GOP fought hard to keep while Democrats viewed it as a top prospect.

Mark Udall was an Outward Bound official in Colorado for many years before serving a term in the Colorado House of Representatives. A liberal and environmentalist, Udall found himself under attack by Schaffer for that record during a campaign that saw energy and drilling loom large as issues.

Mark Udall's late father, Morris "Mo" Udall, represented Arizona in the House for 30 years and made a serious bid for the White House in 1976. So many Udalls have held office over the years that they've been trumpeted as the "Kennedys of the West."

Tom Udall, 60, coasted to re-election amid weeks-long predictions that the race was his. He won the GOP open seat that was held by veteran lawmaker Pete Domenici, who is retiring.

The race pitted Tom Udall against House Republican Steve Pearce, a pilot who flew himself around New Mexico, campaigning aggressively but who first had expended money and time in a divisive primary against House Republican Heather Wilson.

Tom Udall is the son of Stewart Udall, 88, a former congressman who ran the Interior Department for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. The father, a pioneer of the modern conservation movement, drew on allies to raise money and build support for his son.

Should Smith, the third Udall cousin, eke out a win, it will be the first time three cousins have served together there, Senate watchers say. Smith was doing battle against the Democratic speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives, Jeff Merkley.

  • Click here for more on the Udall cousins.
  • Click here for the latest election results.