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.
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: