Senator Ben Ray Lujan

Heinrich Hints That Sen. Ben Ray Lujan Undergoing Physical Therapy After Stroke

U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Lujan, 49, has been hospitalized since Jan. 27, 2022 following a stroke

It has been 17 days since Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) checked into a hospital after suffering a stroke, and 12 days since a statement on his condition was issued.

On Friday, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) tweeted that he “had a great call with @SenatorLujan earlier this week.”

“I’m looking forward to having him back on the Senate floor and sharing some Frito pie in my office (that’s physical therapy, right?).”

Heinrich’s attempt to keep the tone light around a very serious subject nonetheless spurs questions about a topic no media have as yet reported

Is Lujan undergoing physical therapy? And if so, for what specifically? Speech? Mobility? Cognitive?

The lack of information was concerning from the beginning. It took five days before constituents were made aware of Lujan’s hospitalization and “decompressive surgery” following a stroke in his cerebellum.

According to The Hill, Sen. Heinrich “bristled” when asked if Lujan was walking and talking, stating, “You know, like, you guys are unbelievable. You really are. Like, I would suggest you talk to his staff.”

Unfortunately, Lujan’s staff remains tight-lipped, casting doubt on the initial claim that the stroke was “mild.”

As New Mexico politico Joe Monahan pointed out, “Since his illness Lujan, 49, one of the state’s most gregarious politicians, has not issued a single public statement, made a social media post, released a photograph, recorded an audio or video or reported a visitor.”

Nor has there been an update on whether Lujan has been released from the hospital, let alone a status on post-stroke rehabilitation.

“All of that is enough for the public to doubt that the stroke was ‘mild’ as described by Senator Martin Heinrich. Given his love of public life and dedication to public service, if Lujan were able to personally communicate in any way it is assumed he would.”

The Home of New Mexico Politics

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government issued a statement Wednesday calling for a balance between Lujan’s privacy and “the public’s right to know,” suggesting “daily briefings and updates from a spokesperson, as well as daily briefings from his treating physician” in order to “protect the Senator’s privacy, but also ensure New Mexicans have the information they need as constituents.”

“While all of us respect the family’s wishes for privacy during this stressful time, a balance must be struck between that privacy and the public’s right to know. As every elected official can tell you, when you voluntarily step into the public sphere, you waive many of those privacy rights.

“Sen. Lujan’s absence from the Senate is an issue of great public importance, particularly with a U.S. Supreme Court appointment on the horizon.

“New Mexicans are left confused and concerned about the lack of information from the Senator’s office. The Senator’s health, his absence from the Senate, and his future service are issues of public importance. The veil of privacy must be lifted so that New Mexicans know the state of Sen. Lujan’s health and their representation within the Senate.”

–The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government

As yet, there have been no updates. 

6 replies »

  1. As I understand it, his stoke was in the part of the brain that affects mobility. If so physical rehab is needed in order to sit, stand, walk which generally takes several weeks. That there is no mention of his ability to speak with reporters is telling. In most rehab centers, there are multiple therapists involved so hard to know about his actual treatment.

    He is critical in the Senate to provide the 50. If they must fly him out in a chair, they probably will but that means he will be in public view. That means he must appear in control of himself. If that is impossible, Senate Democrats a huge problem.

    Not sure about NM law and the need for a special election, meanwhile the Governor can likely appoint a replacement, should Lujan require a lot of rehab. At the moment, we are likely awaiting more information as the process proceeds.

  2. Update, per https://abq.news/2022/02/watch-sen-lujan-provides-stroke-update-in-video-from-unmh and https://twitter.com/SenatorLujan/status/1492892331246301186, Lujan clearly has no speech issues. We can’t see hos eyes behind those dark glasses (?), but his hand motions seem natural. He says he will enter in-patient rehab which implies a likely issue with walking. He is likely right about a few weeks to recover.

    Dreams of a competent person i the Senate have been crushed.

    • It does appear he is on the mend, which is good news. Still curious what his rehab will comprise. He did not stand and we could not see his face due to the mask.

      • The mask and the sunglasses. The sunglasses might hid something, not sure what. If his eyes were affected he may not be able to read.

  3. Is New Mexico now a 1-US-Senator-Only state? How long does this limbo continue? Hopefully Lujan can recover, but the lack of information from his office isn’t building any confidence from a lot of his constituency.

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