Colorado and New Mexico Udall campaigns emphasize conservation

The New York Times weighed in on Mark and Tom Udall’s congressional races in Colorado and New Mexico today, naming the cousins’ parallel pitches for Senate seats as a test of the Democrats increasing power — and interest — in the West.

The Udall family name is synonymous with conservation in the West, since Stewart Udall, Tom’s father, served as interior secretary in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Yet the Udalls’ emphasis on curbing oil and gas drilling has come under fire from their Republican opponents who are “trying to turn the Udall trademark into a black mark. They contend that the Udalls’ resistance to new drilling and wringing oil out of Rocky Mountain shale has contributed to the energy cost squeeze,” says the Times article. Bob Shaffer, who is running against Mark Udall — was quoted at a Fourth of July event in Greeley: “People are angry the Udalls have worked in tandem to drive the prices up as far as they are,” he said. “They want to see us move faster on production of American resources.”

Mark Udall told the Times that his stance was more nuanced than his detractors gave him credit for. “He said the idea that he and his cousin had a blanket opposition to added oil production was wrong,” says the Times piece. “They simply want more emphasis on renewable and alternative fuels, he said, as well as more conservation, particularly given a changing Western economy built on tourism.”