ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Retired U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman has endorsed former U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez for an open congressional seat in central New Mexico.

The New Mexico Democrat said Wednesday that Martinez has a "thoughtful and innovative approach" to policy-making and would be a reliable addition to the state's congressional delegation.

Martinez says he was honored to receive Bingaman's endorsement and called him a mentor. He worked as an aide to Bingamen before returning to New Mexico and working in then-New Mexico Attorney General Tom Udall's office.

Martinez is running against seven other Democrats in the race — all seeking their party's nomination to succeed U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is running for New Mexico governor.