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Pete Domenici Has Died

on September 13, 2017 - 12:01pm

Staff Report

Former New Mexico U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici died this morning at the age of 85 at University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque. He had recently undergone abdominal surgery and had been in intensive care.

Domenici represented New Mexico in the United States Senate from 1972 until 2008, making him the longest serving U.S. Senator from New Mexico. During his career, Domenici who was a Republican, rose in the ranks of the Senate to eventually serve as chairman or ranking minority member of the budget committee, depending on which party controlled the Senate.

He also rose to be the Republican ranking member of the committee on Energy and Natural Resources, U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development and a member of the U.S. Senate Committees on Appropriations and Indian Affairs.

These committee appointments placed Domenici in powerful positions to benefit New Mexico through directing funding to Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories and military installations in the state. During this period, Domenici earned the nickname “St. Pete” for the largess he helped secure. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, a Democrat who served with Domenici for much of his tenure, also served on several of the same committees and the two were known for working closely together to ensure New Mexico benefited.

Domenici announced Oct. 4, 2007, his decision not to seek re-election to the Senate in 2008 for health reasons. Democrat Tom Udall succeeded him in the Senate.

A public memorial is being planned but details are not yet available.

Condolences:

Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan:

Beloved at Los Alamos for decades, no one has better understood and supported the essential and enduring national security mission of Los Alamos better than Senator Pete Domenici. His commitment and determination to ensuring a strong Laboratory into the future is evidenced by his unwavering support for bringing cutting-edge supercomputing facilities to the Laboratory and ensuring the Laboratory possessed unsurpassed technical capabilities to counter threats to this country from abroad.  

Senator Domenici was also a passionate believer in the benefits of Big Science to our society, referring to our national laboratories as “crown jewels.” He was instrumental in making use of our supercomputing for projects beyond national security, such as mapping the human genome.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall:

Jill and I were very saddened to hear of the passing of Senator Pete Domenici this morning, and we send our deepest sympathies to his family.

Senator Domenici is a legend in New Mexico politics, and though he will be sorely missed, his impact will be felt in the state – and the nation – for generations to come. While we sat on different sides of the political aisle, I admired Pete’s dedication to the well-being of all of New Mexico. He will be remembered for his meaningful contribution on so many issues – especially fiscal responsibility and the federal budget, energy policy and New Mexico’s national labs, free trade, and his personal and heartfelt dedication to ensuring parity in the health care system for those suffering from mental illness.    

But what I admire most about Pete is that during his over 30 years representing the state of New Mexico in the Senate, he always kept New Mexicans first. It’s partly thanks to him that the New Mexico congressional delegation continues a tradition of working together regardless of party – we need more of that in Congress today.

Pete dedicated his life to digging into the complex public policy issues important to our state – from Native American issues to water policy to nuclear energy. Even after he retired, he kept working to make New Mexico a better place for everyone.

On a personal note, I appreciate that Pete was always available to me as a resource. Please join Jill and me in keeping Senator Domenici and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich:

I join all New Mexicans in mourning the passing of our former Senator Pete Domenici. Senator Domenici dedicated his entire life to the state and people he loved. His decades of service to New Mexico left a lasting impact that will continue to be felt in every corner of our state for years to come.

I am grateful for the example Senator Domenici set on how to advance important and complex policy goals in Washington with civility. Republicans and Democrats alike who worked with him on issues like the budget, energy, defense, and behavioral health still point to his dedication to improving the lives of those he served through bipartisan cooperation and compromise.

Our thoughts and condolences are with his wife, Nancy, and all of his family and loved ones during this time of great loss.

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján:

I was saddened to learn of the passing of former Senator Pete Domenici, New Mexico's longest-serving senator.

From his start as the Chairman of Albuquerque City Commission, now known as the Mayor of  Albuquerque, Pete Domenici fought passionately for the things he believed in and the people he represented.

Senator Domenici was a formidable figure who left a lasting mark on our state. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time. May he rest in peace.

U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce:

It is with a heavy heart today that we say goodbye to a man that single handedly transformed the state of New Mexico. Senator Domenici was a powerful voice for all New Mexicans and went above and beyond for the people and families who call the land of enchantment home.

I had the great privilege of working closely with Senator Domenici over the years, and fostered a relationship with him as a friend, mentor, and leader. He didn’t hesitate to put every single New Mexican before himself and fought tirelessly to make sure opportunities for a better life were available to all. He was a titan – a fighter – and his work for the wellness and prosperity of New Mexico will forever be remembered.

There are no words that can ease the pain we share today, but together we can make sure his legacy lives on.

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham:

It goes without saying that Sen. Pete Domenici cared deeply for New Mexico and its people. His political pragmatism represented the views of New Mexicans in every corner of the state, which is why he was so respected.

I can’t think of anyone who had a greater impact on New Mexico, particularly through his work on energy policy and securing funding to expand the work at our national labs. His budget prowess gave New Mexico outsized influence, which helped shape the state’s economy, while meeting our national security needs during and beyond the Cold War.

My lasting impression of Sen. Domenici will always be his heroic work on mental health parity. His compassion and dedication to improve the lives of people with mental disabilities is a legacy worthy of a giant like Pete Domenici.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas:

I was saddened to learn of Senator Domenici’s passing and our thoughts and prayers are with his family. We are grateful for his decades of service to our state.

New Mexico House Republican Leader Nate Gentry:

I was devastated to hear of Senator Domenici’s passing earlier this morning. As we reflect on Senator Domenici’s incredible legacy, we should also recall his willingness to work with Democrats and Republicans alike to improve the condition of our state and nation. Our country would be a better place if more public officials took Senator Domenici’s approach to governing. We have lost a legendary statesman today. My thoughts and prayers are with Nancy and the entire Domenici family.


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