Lujan, Manuel, Jr., 1928-2019

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Manuel Archibald Lujan Jr. (May 12, 1928 – April 25, 2019) was an American businessman, lobbyist, and politician. A member of the Republican Party, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives representing New Mexico's 1st congressional district from 1969 to 1989 and as the United States Secretary of the Interior from 1989 to 1993.

Born in San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico, he attended Catholic schools in Santa Fe and Saint Mary's College in Moraga, California in 1946 before graduating from the St. Michael's College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. After college, Lujan went to work for the family insurance company, the Manuel Lujan Agencies, which his father had opened in 1925. Lujan also followed his father into politics, launching his first campaign with a failed bid for the New Mexico State Senate in 1964. Three years later, he helped to found the Republican National Hispanic Assembly. In the 1968 general election, Luján challenged five-term Democratic Representative Thomas Morris, winning 53 percent of the vote.

Throughout the 1970s, Lujan sailed to reelection and built a reputation as a low-key, personable backbencher. His legislative interests were largely in line with the western U.S. states priorities of the time, including Indian affairs, nuclear power expansion, and the opening of federal lands to commerce and recreation. In 1978, Lujan was the first Hispanic Republican to join the recently formed Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The 1980s brought new challenges and new prominence for Lujan. Though he almost lost his seat in 1980, Lujan's district was significantly altered after New Mexico picked up a third district, becoming far more urban. Fending off another close challenge in 1982, he easily won re-election in 1984 and 1986. Due to the new demographics of his district, Lujan stood down as ranking Republican of the House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee and became ranking Republican of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.

Beginning with Ronald Reagan's inauguration in 1981, Lujan was often mentioned as a potential nominee for Interior Secretary. After initially declining to accept the job for the incoming George H.W. Bush White House, he changed his mind only after a personal appeal from the president-elect and was easily confirmed in February 1989. Just months into his term, Lujan came under criticism from conservationists and the media for his hands-off approach to policy and his gaffe-prone speeches. As the chairman of a White House task force studying offshore oil drilling, Lujan expressed his strong support for drilling off the California coast in a speech to western governors; as the administration point man on offshore drilling, he opposed Democratic efforts to halt the practice after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in April 1989. In the waning months of his term, Lujan was frequently named as a likely candidate for Governor of New Mexico in 1994. He moved quickly to squelch the rumors, saying he was "through running."

After leaving office, Lujan worked as a lobbyist and a public speaker. He died of heart failure on April 25, 2019 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Lujan, Manuel, 1928-. Congressional papers, 1968-1992. University of New Mexico-Main Campus
referencedIn Charles R. Beeson Papers, 1963-1997 New Mexico Health Historical Collection, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Library and Informatics Center
creatorOf New Mexico. Governor (1971-1974 : King). Governor Bruce King papers, 1st term, 1971-1974. New Mexico State Library
creatorOf Lujan, Manuel, 1928-. Manuel Lujan : commercials , 1970-1986. University of Oklahoma, Political Community Archives
creatorOf Manual Lujan Photograph Collection, 1960-1980 The University of New Mexico, University Libraries, Center for SouthwestResearch
creatorOf New Mexico. Governor (1967-1970 : Cargo). Governor David Cargo papers, 1967-1970. New Mexico State Library
referencedIn Spotted Owl Management, Policy, and Research Collection, 1969-1993 (bulk: 1983-1993) Oregon State University Libraries University Archives
referencedIn Governor David F. Cargo Papers, 1967-1970 New Mexico State Records Center and Archives
referencedIn University of Arizona. The Morris K. Udall oral history collection (1996-ongoing). University of Arizona Libraries
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Beeson, Charles R., 1923- person
associatedWith Cargo, David F. person
sibling of Lujan, Edward person
relativeOf Lujan Grisham, Michelle, 1959- person
associatedWith Meslow, E. Charles. person
associatedWith New Mexico. Governor (1967-1970 : Cargo) corporateBody
associatedWith New Mexico. Governor (1971-1974 : King) corporateBody
almaMaterOf Saint Mary's College, Moraga. corporateBody
almaMaterOf Saint Michael's College (Santa Fe, N.M.) corporateBody
memberOf United States. Congress. House person
leaderOf United States Department of the Interior corporateBody
associatedWith University of Arizona. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Oklahoma. Political Commercial Archive. corporateBody
associatedWith Vietnam Veterans Chapel (Colfax County, N.M.) corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Santa Fe NM US
San Ildefonso Pueblo NM US
District of Columbia DC US
Albuquerque NM US
Ranch houses--New Mexico
Advertising, political
Women--Legal status, laws, etc
Wilderness areas
Television advertising
Gambling on Indian reservations--Law and legislation
Wilderness areas--New Mexico
Gambling on Indian reservations--Law and legislation--United States
Radio advertising
Legislators--United States
Representatives, U.S. Congress--New Mexico
Cabinet officers
Insurance agents


Birth 1928-05-12

Death 2019-04-25



Spanish; Castilian,




Ark ID: w65r5mr5

SNAC ID: 85760121