Lujan Grisham builds profile as Biden looks to make VP pick

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FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2020, file photo, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham gives her State of the State address during the opening of the New Mexico legislative session in the House chambers at the state Capitol in Santa Fe, N.M. Michelle Lujan Grisham has not received the attention of many higher profile candidates under consideration to be Joe Biden's running mate. But she has a resume that few of them can match. (AP Photo/Craig Fritz, File)

SANTA FE, N.M. – Michelle Lujan Grisham has not received the attention of many higher-profile candidates under consideration to be Joe Biden's running mate. But she has a resume that few of them can match.

The New Mexico governor has executive experience and served in the U.S. House and as her state's health secretary. Tested by the coronavirus pandemic, she has taken strong steps — including a mandatory face mask order and invoking the state’s riot act to isolate one city — that have been credited with saving lives.

She's taking an increasingly tough stand against President Donald Trump, who has sent federal agents to Albuquerque to combat violent crime despite local skepticism about the timing and intentions.

And she’s one of the nation’s highest-ranking Latina officials as Latinos emerge as the fastest-growing demographic for eligible voters.

But as Biden prepares to make a vice presidential pick as soon as next week, Lujan Grisham is at risk of being shadowed by more prominent contenders, including Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Lujan Grisham is undeterred, pledging to help Biden in any way and making the case that Latinos could decide the election.

“The Latino and Hispanic vote will be essential,” Lujan Grisham said last week at a fundraiser for Biden. “You know it. I know it. The occupant in the White House knows it.”

Biden can't afford to ignore that sentiment. The Pew Research Center estimates that the number of eligible Latino voters is expected to reach 32 million on Election Day. Crucially, Latinos account for 20% of eligible voters in the swing state of Florida and 24% in Arizona.

During the Democratic primary, Latinos overwhelmingly sided with Biden's progressive rival Bernie Sanders, exposing a potential weakness for the eventual nominee.