NM-Sen Roundup: Who’s In, Who’s Out & Who’s Thinkin’ About It

Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s retirement, like Pete Domenici’s two cycles ago, has sent New Mexico’s small political world abuzz, with observers discussing tons of potential candidates on both sides. I’ve been collecting links for the past few days, and as best I can tell, here’s what the current playing field looks like:


Andres Valdez (D), “a longtime anti-police-brutality activist from Albuquerque”

Bill English (R), some nutter who once wrote on his blog that President Obama is “what literally amounts to an African dictator”

Greg Sowards (R), a teabagger who spent several hundred grand of his own money to take in 17% in the NM-02 Republican primary in 2008


Hector Balderas (D), the 37-year-old state Auditor who became the youngest Hispanic statewide elected official in the country in 2006; a source tells Dave Catanese that Balderas, who has scored the “rising star” label, is “95% in”


Janice Arnold-Jones (R), a former state representative, who says she’s “among” those who are interested

Terry Brunner (D), Bingaman’s former state director and current USDA official, who says he will make a decision “in the next few weeks”

Diane Denish (D), the former Lt. Gov. and 2010 gubernatorial candidate, who says she is “fully exploring the contest”

Martin Heinrich (D), the 1st CD Rep., who says he is “actively considering” the race

Tom Mullins (R), the 2010 GOP nominee in NM-03, who says he’s not ruling out a run

Heather Wilson (R), the former 1st CD Rep., who says she is “considering running for the Senate, as well as other opportunities”


Edgar Lopez (D), a wealthy real estate developer who says he is more interested in running for NM-02, depending upong redistricting

Ben Ray Lujan (D), the 3rd CD Rep., who says that his “focus at this time is on representing the people in my district”

Steve Pearce (R), the 2nd CD Rep., who told Politico it was “too soon for him to even consider a race” (their words); Pearce also wants to make sure the party picks a “conservative candidate” (i.e., not Heather Wilson), to avoid a replay of the 2008 GOP primary (where he beat Heather Wilson in a nasty fight but got crushed by Tom Udall in the general)


Gary Johnson (R), the governor before Bill Richardson & current presidential candidate, who is “not at all” interested

Bill Richardson (D), the former governor, who just joined a public relations firm

Susana Martinez (R), the current governor, who through a spokesman says she isn’t interested

Are there any other names you’ve heard about?

21 thoughts on “NM-Sen Roundup: Who’s In, Who’s Out & Who’s Thinkin’ About It”

  1. Gary Johnson so far looked to be the only GOPer who could have given us real heartburn in the general, but even there he probably would have lost the GOP primary anyway. So far, it doesn’t seem like there’s anyone potentially running who could put this Senate seat in real jeopardy.

  2. Although Auditor Balderas’s ability (or, potentially, his lack thereof) to clear the field may be interesting to watch.

  3. but I thought that was obvious. It should be, but perhaps for some people it’s not, which of course makes the Val Kilmer rumor all the more puzzling.  

  4. would be Susana Martinez. But she is also in the group of people out, and that makes me feel a lot safer about this district.

    If they are not the republican frontrunners I think the republicans will down here until a very low level.

    H Balderas seems a good level candidate. He is not the frontrunner (it is J Bingaman) but seems in very good position. I think to have a hispanic person in the highest level will help to the democrats from New Mexico in the future.

  5. As a whole I tend to be a bit pessimistic (as I was told in my diary) and I am not worried about this one. Heinrich or Balderas will do fine and be great Senators. Right now I am leaning towards Heinrich but I have nothing against Balderas.  

  6. I know that there was some discussion in another thread about the possibility of a nasty racially divisive primary but I don’t see it. I don’t claim expertise on this one and haven’t lived in NM for 6 years but I see an outsider vs. insider primary if it were Balderas vs. Heinrich.

    A racially divisive primary is just not going to happen. Heinrich supports just about every Latino iniative and has been very active in the community. Heinrich’s relationship with the Latino community is very good as in a tough re-election fight against a Latino opponent, the Latino community had his back and overwhelmingly supported him. He isn’t going to engage in any racial shennagians.

    The only racial shennagians would be if a fiercly anti-immigration Repbulican like Tom Tancredo won the GOP nomination. It Tancerdo wants to move south and run for the nomination I’d help pay for his moving fee.  

  7. Heinrich, if he runs, will not try to pull any of that crap out of pure survival.

    Plus, one thing that a lot of people forget about New Mexico is that Hispanics have a lot more political clout here than they do in other places with larger Hispanic populations, and that also means that it’s less of a big deal electing statewide Hispanics than in other places, and it means that in Balderas’s case, he can’t just rely on being Hispanic to win Hispanic support against a candidate like Heinrich.

  8. I don’t think Sanchez, Denish or Pearce will run. In all likelihood, Wilson will get her due and win the nomination over a bunch of random Tea Partiers, while Balderas and Heinrich might well engage in a brutal primary, ala the ’08 GOP race. That’s precisely how Wilson makes this competitive, I imagine. If Heinrich wins and Hispanics aren’t thrilled, Wilson can probably perform Martinez numbers.

  9. Unless there is some kind of ideological difference a la the GOP in 2008 I can’t see it. If the hapless Rory Reid can win Hispanics 2 to 1 against the Latino Sandoval then Heinrich should have no problem.

  10. I realize that there is potential for anything but please see my post above. Heinrich’s base is the Latino community who when he needed someone to get his back in 2010 they had it. They backed him over a Latino opponent in one of the worst cycles in decades for Democrats. Heinrich is not going to alienate his base in a primary, any Democrat that wins statewide in New Mexico is winning with a strong plurality of the Latino vote. If it was Balderas vs. Heinrich it would likely be establishment vs. anti-establishment primary and there would be very little to no racial overtones.  

  11. I mean, it’s true that Sandoval looks more like an “ethnic” white with a nice tan, but saying that discrimination against your race doesn’t bother you can’t have helped.

  12. With the possible exception of Cubans in FL, can non-white R candidates show ethnic pride

    and still win their primaries?

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