Tom Udall was born in Tucson, Ariz. He grew up in Arizona and in the Washington, D.C.-area and now lives in Santa Fe, N.M. His father, the late Stewart Udall, served in Congress and was secretary of the interior.
The younger Udall received a bachelor's degree from Prescott College in 1970. He earned a bachelor's of law degree, specializing in international law, from Cambridge University in 1975, and a law degree from the University of New Mexico in 1977.
Udall was attorney general of New Mexico from 1990 to 1998. He won the state's 3rd Congressional District seat in 1998 and served five terms.
He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008, filling the seat vacated by Republican Pete Domenici, who retired because of a degenerative brain disease.
Udall and his wife, Jill, have a daughter.
Tom Udall was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008, and is following a family tradition of public service.
Udall's late father was Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, who once served in Congress, and his uncle was former Rep. Morris "Mo" Udall of Arizona. His cousin is Colorado Sen. Mark Udall.
The Senate itself is the target of one of the New Mexico's senator's reform initiatives. Udall was among a group of Democrats who tried unsuccessfully in 2011 to change Senate rules to limit the ability of the minority party to hold up legislation through a filibuster.
"Over the past few years, open and honest debate has been replaced too often with secret backroom deals and partisan gridlock. Up-or-down votes on important issues have been unreasonably delayed or blocked entirely at the whim of a single senator," Udall said.
He said lawmakers "need to bring the workings of the Senate out of the shadows and restore accountability within the chamber."
Although the filibuster reforms failed, Senate leaders agreed to halt a stalling tactic that allowed individual senators to anonymously delay legislation and nominations.
Udall has supported efforts to improve safety in football, particularly related to severe head injuries such as concussions. He asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate "misleading safety claims and deceptive practices" in the marketing of football helmets. He proposed a measure to require new industry standards on the risk of concussions and to make it a crime to sell sporting equipment with false or misleading claims about safety benefits.
Like his father, Udall has been a strong proponent of protecting public lands and advocating for environmental causes. He and Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico have proposed legislation to create wilderness and conservation areas in Dona Ana County in southern New Mexico. He also has sponsored legislation to transfer the management of the Valles Caldera National Preserve in northern New Mexico to the National Park Service.
In the wake of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, Udall called for tougher federal regulation of offshore oil drilling and he urged the oil industry to "change its deregulatory and self-regulatory attitude."
In early 2012, Udall also has pushed to improve safety in sports and horse racing. He proposed legislation to establish national anti-doping standards for medication of horses to deal with the abuse of painkillers and performance enhancing drugs.
"The sport of horse racing, which, at its best, showcases the majestic beauty of this animal and the athleticism of jockeys, has reached an alarming level of corruption and exploitation. The consequence of inconsistent state-level regulation is an epidemic of animal doping that has led to countless euthanizations of helpless horses and the injury and death of their riders," Udall said in March 2012.
He is a member of numerous Senate committees, including Foreign Relations, Commerce, Science and Transportation, and Environment and Public Works.
Committee Assignments: Commerce, Science, and Transportation; Indian Affairs; Rules and Administration; Foreign Relations; Environment and Public Works; Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe; International Narcotics Control Caucus
American Conservative Union Rating: 5
Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 95
Recent winning percentages for office currently held: 61% (2008).
(Last updated by Barry Massey on June 21, 2012.)