NM-Sen, NM-01: Martin Heinrich Will Run for Senate

That’s the story according to a couple of dudes that the Associated Press spoke to, at least:

U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich plans to run for the Senate seat being vacated by longtime Sen. Jeff Bingaman, two New Mexico Democrats close to the congressman and familiar with his political plans said Friday.

The two state Democrats, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid upstaging Heinrich’s formal announcement, told The Associated Press that Heinrich will announce his candidacy for U.S. Senate on Saturday. Heinrich, 39, is the first prominent Democrat to jump into the race as his party seeks to hold onto the seat that has been held by Bingaman since 1982.

Heinrich spokeswoman Whitney Potter declined to comment Friday on the congressman’s political plans.

When he announces, Heinrich will be the first New Mexico Democrat of any stature to formally launch a campaign for retiring Dem Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s seat. (State Auditor Hector Balderas is expected to run, but he hasn’t yet made his plans public.) It would appear that Heinrich, in his second term in the House after a stint serving as an Albuquerque city councilman, would have the jump on his would-be Democratic primary opponents — at least according to a recent but meagrely-sampled poll by Tulchin Research for the Defenders of Wildlife. Heinrich led the field with 32%, followed by ex-Lt. Gov. Diane Denish at 25%, 3rd CD Rep. Ben Ray Luján at 15%, Balderas at 5% and 24% undecided.

Heinrich will leave behind an extremely swingy open seat in the House, but if a solid replacement candidate can be found, the Obama turnout machine should be a formidable advantage for Team Blue here.

(Hat-tip: MinnesotaMike)

UPDATE: Here’s one potential replacement for Heinrich in the House — state Sen. Eric Griego, who wasted no time in setting up an exploratory committee:

“I am seriously considering entering the Congressional race, but need to discuss my final decision with my family, my employer, and of course my supporters,” Griego said in a statement sent to the media. “This is an important decision not just for me and my family, but for our whole community and it warrants serious soul searching and a sober review of what kind of Democrat we want fighting for us in Washington.”

In addition to his position in the Senate, Griego currently is the Executive Director of the non-profit New Mexico Voices for Children.

“It is a very critical time for our state and our country,” Senator Griego said. “We need a Democratic Congressional candidate who will unapologetically stand up for working families and take on those who would put large corporate interests ahead of our children, our environment and our local businesses.”

UPDATE 2 (David): Heinrich makes it official, with a video (and transcript) on his website:

73 thoughts on “NM-Sen, NM-01: Martin Heinrich Will Run for Senate”

  1. of the vote there in 2008. It’s not that exceptionally swingish. And Heinrich has a huge lead in the primary, especially since Denish and Lujan are very unlikely to run. If elected Heinrich would probably be the youngest member of the Senate. I’m really glad. He probably gives Democrats their best candidate and leaves holding this seat a pretty sure probability, particularly if there’s a big expensive, nasty primary on the Republican side, as it is shaping up to be.

    1. Basic, politely understated in a good way, and a nice use of food and the idea of “going to the grocery store is the best way to understand what people are going through right now.” Plus it shows off his nice family and their not-grandiose abode.

      In a sense, Heinrich did something similar to Christopher Murphy by using a personal, in-the-home feel to his announcement video, though Murphy’s was based on him knocking on your door.

  2. but given New Mexico’s democratic lean, Heather Wilson will really have to campaign well and perhaps get a decent environment for Republicans in order to win.  Heinrich is a strong candidate for our side, and I don’t expect him to make gaffes during the campaign.  

    There’s at least 4 or 5 seats I worry about more than New Mexico, most notably North Dakota, Nebraska, and Montana.

  3. Balderas seems great, but he’s young and I’d hope he passes on facing off in a potentially contentious primary with Heinrich, which Heinrich would probably end up winning anyway. He has lots of opportunity ahead of him.  

  4. So I’ll stick to NM-01, having Griego run for Heinrich’s seat makes me extremely happy, he’s a strong progressive (many here might remember that he ran for mayor in 2005 against Marty Chavez and Republican city councilor (and, sadly enough, my high school vice principal, Brad Winter). I voted for Griego that year and I really want his voice in congress.

  5. is surely Democratic-leaning (especially in Presidential year), but not very Democratic, and generally swingy (it continued to reelect Wilson even while voting for Kerry). Griego is a good candidate, but may be somewhat liberal for it. I doubt he could win it in 2010 environment, but 2012 may be another matter…

  6. for what its worth.  

    I think Heinrich could clear the field on the D side.  Hispanics have a  history of losing  D primaries statewide in NM.  There are a few number of “pinto” democrats and geographically and politically Heinrich does suck air out on the D side.  

    My sense is that Wilson would have a hard time beating Heinrich.  They are from the same geographic area and Wilson would not be able make enough inroads in the hispanic vote to win.  Just my two cents circa April 2011.

    I think Sanchez, however, represents the best GOP chance.  I would not surprised if she diverted to NM1.

    A bit of advice for hispanics in NM1. Heinrich won the primary for this seat strictly due to a split in the hispanic community.  If they want to have an hispanic in this seat they need to unite behind someone.  

  7. this is certainly the year to run, both for heinrich and whomever runs for his seat.  

  8. would be the tougher candidate to beat? I suppose conventional wisdom says Wilson, because she was something of a moderate track record, but Sanchez may be able to erode some of the Dems support from Hispanics, especially if our nominee is Heinrich. Any thoughts?

  9. If you’re a Democrat with any Senate ambitions, this is really the time to get in, because Udall’s probably going to be around for a while.

  10. I think Heinrich is a great recruit for the Dems but does anyone else think the chickens in the announcement video were a little odd? Not to be overly critical they just seemed out of place with the speech Heinrich was giving.  

  11. I glad. A recent poll put him leading a group of prominent republicans that only include not J Bingaman (obviously), W Richardson and T Anaya. That convince me.

    New Mexico is the right place for send a hispanic Democrat to the Senate, but M Heinrich is also a good candidate.

    If I’m not wrong D Denish and H Balderas can run for NM-01. I hope see some of them running for the US House seat.

  12. He’s the state auditor and is very popular. Hispanic from northern New Mexico, plus he wouldn’t have to leave his position to run for Senate, as his term isn’t up until 2014.

    Balderas has been rumored to be more interested in running for governor (he will be term-limited out of his current position in 2014) but who knows if the temptation of a U.S. Senate seat will draw him into a running for that?

  13. Chris Murphy and Josh Mandel have him beat. There’s a strong chance at least one of them will be in the Senate.  

  14. Auditor Balderas would be a huge underdog, and he’s an ambitious guy who has to be thinking about the future of his brand. Running against the popular establishment guy and getting crushed isn’t going to look great on his C.V. if he goes in for governor.

  15. I doubt Balderas really has very good name recognition statewide compared to Heinrich (State Auditor is not a well known political office, unlike Attorney General say). Plus, given how much the Albuquerque area dominates the media of New Mexico, it’s not totally clear to me that Balderas would even have that much of an edge in northern New Mexico (which probably puts him at an even greater disadvantage in Albuquerque and southern New Mexico, particularly Las Cruces and Socorro).

    And if he loses, there’s a good chance it hurts his ability to run statewide in 2014 (especially if he loses big to Heinrich, which is definitely a risk for him).

    Plus, it’s worth mentioning that it’s not a given that Udall will be a lifer, if he ultimately wants a senate seat.

    Of course, I might be biased, I like Heinrich (in no small part because he is my very first Democratic congresscritter!).

  16. If the polling was just between those two, I bet Heinrich would be up 55-30 or so, and has to be considered the establishment favorite. I would prefer Balderas run for Governor in 2014, rather than complicating a primary for a possibly competitive senate seat.  

  17. have more trouble than either Murphy or Heinrich, particularly if Kasich continues to be a drag on Ohio Republicans. I’m kind of hoping Mandel will run, I get the feeling he’s not ready for prime time, especially a prime time against someone as relentless and aggressive as Sherrod Brown with a suddenly fiercely motivated union-blue collar furor behind his uniquely suited populist style of politics.  

  18. And Virginia to that list. Though I’ll remove Stabenow if, going in 2012, Republicans still haven’t come up with a legitimate candidate to run against her and Obama looks set to pull off a 5+ point margin or so in the state.  

  19. At least, not the general, which is what I assume you mean.

    I don’t think she can get out of a primary in today’s GOP environment.

  20. I think MO and MT are tossups as of now. I’d put MI, OH, and all at lean D to likely D unless the environment gets worse for Dems, and I suspect it will get better as the economy improves.  

  21. This marks the nth time that I’ve ascribed the wrong first name to some reasonably well-known pol. Jeff, Ed, Richard, Steve, Ron, Rob, Raul, whatever…

  22. where I kept talking about Jamie DeMint, due to some unknown synaptic misfire, for ten minutes.  

  23. Madrid is a joke now and Chavez thinks the House is beneath him (not to mention the fact that he’d never win a Democratic primary).

  24. There are folk actually recruiting Ken Blackwell for goodness sake.

    Sabato rates Ohio as Lean D.

  25. I think are going to be easier holds than most expect, especially Michigan.  Obama I think is going to win there by 10+ unless he’s losing nationally, so Stabenow would really have to stink it up to lose.  The field doesn’t look all that strong really, IMO Hoekstra looks like he’s the strongest of the bunch but he’s really right wing in a relatively blue state (aside from last year’s anomaly).

    Sherrod Brown is going to be a tough out for the Republicans no matter the political climate, he’s basically a grass-roots, populist warrior for the working class and middle class.  He’s hugely popular and has been all the way for the most part here except during the pits of late 2010 for Dems everywhere.  The only candidates I could see pushing Brown short of another red wave in 2012 are Mary Taylor and Steven LaTourette, and I don’t think either one is going to get into the race.  

    If I had to rank the D-held seats most likely to flip, here’s where I’d rank them right now:

    1.Nebraska (gone)

    2.North Dakota (probably lost but depends on candidates)

    3.Montana (tough race even with incumbent)

    4.Missouri (another tough state for Dems, even with incumbent

    5.Virginia (swing state that usually leans red, open seat)

    6.New Mexico (blue state, but some strong candidates)

    Those are the only seats I see as vulnerable.  I think Florida, Ohio, and Michigan would be 7, 8, and 9 but those won’t fall unless we really have another wave like 2010 and Obama’s getting drilled in those states.

    On the flip side, I think the Democrats will pick up Nevada and Massachusetts, and if Gabrielle Giffords jumps in, they’ll pick up Arizona as well.  Maine and Indiana will also be in play if Lugar and/or Snowe don’t make it out of their primaries.  

    ***All of this assumes a fairly competitive political environment.  If there’s a wave one way or the other, then this whole forecast changes drastically.

  26. I’d hate to beat a seemingly dead horse, but what happened to her exactly? I know she came really close to unseating Heather Wilson in 2006. Did she commit a gaffe or something? I’m just really curious. And do you know of any other viable candidates that came a credible run for NM-01?  

  27. Josh Mandel is a hot piece of ass. Mandel, Heinrich, Thune, Paul, Brown, Portman, Corker, and Warner could form an Attractive Male caucus

  28. what, Madrid didn’t think a tax question would come up in the debate?  That a Republican wouldn’t call on a Democrat to prove he or she wouldn’t raise taxes?  What an amateur.  I’m glad Heinrich won this seat 2 years later.

  29. how popular she’ll be in 2014, but right now Susana Martinez is a well-liked  minor GOP up-and-comer (that label is way overused, but I think it’s warranted in this case, she’s a charismatic Latina Republican from a state that has been sliding toward Team Blue). If Balderas has to decide now whether he wants to run for Senate and probably lose the primary, or wait and runs against a governor who at the moment seems invulnerable, he may roll the dice on a Senate bid. He may also just want to see Hispanics represented in the Dem primary.  

  30. I think a lot of Republicans harbor under the delusion that all they need to do is nominate a Hispanic candidate and that’s enough to get Hispanic votes, it’s not true, especially not in New Mexico. And Sanchez isn’t a particularly impressive candidate, he’s already lost one statewide race in the past, he was a sacrificial lamb candidate at the time.

    And I’d be shocked if she did, she still wouldn’t have the field to herself and she wouldn’t even be a favorite in the general (I’ve said this before, but Wilson would likely have lost to Heinrich in 2008, her district has slowly but surely become more Democratic than the rest of New Mexico).

  31. There’s this view that Heinrich only won in the 2008 primary because the Hispanic vote was split between two Hispanic women, but that’s really not true, in a four-candidate race, Heinrich got 43.5% of the vote to Vigil-Giron’s 24.7%, and 23.5% for Grisham. Heinrich had a nearly 20 point lead over either of the other two and it’s not clear that Heinrich would not have gotten support from Vigil-Giron or Grisham voters if one or the other hadn’t run.

    This type of analysis is shallow and doesn’t consider political realities of New Mexico.

  32. to get Ken Blackwell as a candidate? That’s like putting a pair of cement boots on Republicans all over the state.

  33. Hispanics in New Mexico are a mature electorate, they’ve always had proper representation in the legislature and statewide, Republicans aren’t going to get any bonus points for nominating Hispanic candidates here.

  34. a few points if only because it gives him an “in” with Hispanic voters, but he’d have to do better than shave a few points off of the total to really have a chance, unless he’s absolutely dominating with white voters.

    Take the 2008 Senate race, for instance. The CNN exit polls tell us the racial breakdown was 50/1/41/0/8 for whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and others. Udall had a 47/70/80 split amongst whites, Hispanics, and others. (Blacks and Asians barely registered.) Let’s say that Sanchez were to have a 57/45/25 split amongst whites, Hispanics, and others. That’s four points higher amongst whites, five points higher amongst blacks, and a whopping 15 points higher amongst Hispanics, yet he still only gets 48.95 percent of the vote.

  35. enough with myself to say that, despite being straight, I can see the appeal of the others you mentioned, but Mandel looks like a 13-year-old that hasn’t grown into his body yet, only taller.  

  36. but he does have nice eyes.

    In any case, I think he will be a good addition to the Senate, which could very much use some generational diversity.  

  37. The only exit poll that I’ve seen for 2010 showed Susana Martinez only getting 38% of Hispanics (and this is in a race where Martinez beat out Denish by 9 points).

    Sanchez won’t break 40% among Hispanics, especially not against Heinrich, who has strong ties to the Hispanic community.

  38. I agree its not a magic bullet but for the GOP, IMO, its better to try a new plan then redo a scenerio with a +10 loss as a goal.  I certainly did not claim a shoo in win for Sanchez but I think he clearly has a better chance then Wilson.  Again that’s just my opinion.

    Here’s my take on 2012 and I said it before so while I am repeating it I am  not “trolling it”.  

    1. I don’t think we  can be sure what 2012 will look like politically.  Its April 2011 and yes things happen and just as 2006 preceded 2008 what if 2010 foreshadowed 2012. I might add 2002 foreshadowed 2004. Lets be clear that events like 2000 point drops in the Dow or hurricanes wiping gulf oil production or whatever can affect things.

    2. Will it matter in NM if things look 2008 as opposed to 2000 or 2004?  You bet but in politics you run to win and certain forces can’t be controlled.  Heinrich is making a bet on 2012 but we see $8 gas and 14% unemployment he could lose.  Likewise $2 gas and 7% unemployment he could lapping anyone.

    I like Sanchez as a candidate.  I think he is the best the chance the GOP has-circa 04-02-2011.

  39. Glad to see I’m not the only one who thought the video seemed very similar. The first 15-20 seconds is almost identical, especially in theme. Both of these guys are going to be great US Senators. I wish Heinrich was a Hispanic, but he’s not. That said, he’s pretty fantastic on the issues.

  40. Considering all the teabagger mania sweeping the GOP, especially west of The Plains, Wilson doesn’t have that much of a chance of surviving the primary IMHO.

  41. I suspect we’re looking at a Sanchez vs. Heinrich showdown here, with the latter winning by about 10. I do wish, though, that exit polls were conducted on the 2010 gubernatorial race, just to see if it was really the Hispanic vote which put Martinez over-the-top. I know some have speculated that Denish perhaps just did fine among Hispanics and Martinez just did excellent among whites.

    Oh, and Pearce and Denish would be the worst candidates for the parties here. I don’t think either could win.

  42. Than the 30% of the Latino vote Sharron Angle got in our Senate race last year. It seems like 40% is the new ceiling for any GOP candidate.

  43. That kind of thinking really is shallow. Latino voters don’t just vote on the basis of last name and family heritage. According to CNN’s exit poll, Rory Reid got 65% of the Latino vote here in Nevada last year despite Brian Sandoval running on the GOP side and despite Sandoval dominating among white voters (62%). So if the GOP can’t even make inroads among our more transient electorate here in Nevada, New Mexico will be much more of a challenge.

  44. of high turnout amongst Cuban-Americans and lower turnout amongst non-Cuban Hispanics.

    To give you a bit of perspective, Cuban-Americans voted for Katherine friggin’ Harris over Bill Nelson by a clear majority back in 2006.

  45. Maybe it’s the Jews for Sarah and Fox News clouding my judgment, but he’s just meh.

  46. As I’ve mentioned before, Sanchez has already run statewide before, he got destroyed by Bill Richardson, Heather Wilson has never lost statewide before and in fact hasn’t lost a general election. Not that I think Wilson has a chance statewide, her popularity has really gone downhill, but Sanchez is no stronger than Wilson, and may prove to be weaker (Wilson, at least, has shown an ability to run in a Democratic-leaning area, Sanchez hasn’t shown that ability).

    And I’ll end with this, if Democrats have lost NM-Sen this year, it means that Democrats have not only lost control of the senate, but they’ve probably also dropped to 45 seats or something like that, so in your doomsday scenario (for Democrats) I doubt it matters that Wilson or Sanchez is the nominee.

  47. I recall it was a Hispanic group that conducted the exit poll, but I could be wrong.  SSPer DGM is more familiar with it than I, and I think he commented recently that it showed Martinez getting 38% of Hispanics.  I remember others citing that, too, for a NM exit poll that was done in isolation from the regular ones.

  48. http://latinodecisions.wordpre

    Still, it is a poll specifically of Hispanic voters (as opposed to the exit polls) and reading the site they come from, they do make a very reasonable case that traditional pollsters tend to understate Democratic support among Hispanics (except, interestingly, in Florida where the opposite appears to be true).

    To be honest, I’m not totally sure how much I believe their polls outside of New Mexico, as some of their numbers are in direct contradiction to the exit polls in states like Illinois, California, and Nevada (although, they do make a somewhat persuasive case if you dig around on their site).

  49. They used a very detailed and hypertechnical statistical explanation to argue that Harry Reid won Hispanics 93-7, not 70-30 like the exit poll said.

    I call bullshit on that.  Hispanics never vote 93-7 for anyone.  No Republican ever performs worse than the low 20s with Hispanics.  There are enough diehard conservatives among Hispanic Americans, in Nevada and everywhere else, to keep the floor a lot higher than Latino Decisions claimed.

    I think they went too far down a rabbit hole looking for what they wanted to find, instead of just going where the data leads them.  And they came up with a contorted statistical analysis that’s as deep as you can go.

    All that said, I’ll repeat that I’m willing to shelve that bad analysis and give them credit for good work otherwise.

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