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?

SSP Daily Digest: 6/15 (Morning Edition)

(Note: The content of this post was written entirely by DavidNYC.)

  • FL-Sen: If there’s one small upside to the terrible tragedy unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico, it’s that the drill, baby, drill brigade is being made to squirm painfully. Larry Kudlow, of all people, beat it out of Marco Rubio that he “opposes a moratorium on offshore drilling, opposes forcing BP to stop paying dividends to shareholders, and supports continued drilling off Florida’s coasts in the long run.” I like it when clear lines are drawn.
  • KY-Sen: This reminds me of C3PO’s advice to R2D2 after the latter beat Chewbacca in chess: “I suggest a new strategy – let the Wookie win.” Rand Paul’s new defeatist strategy is to only take questions from reporters in writing. I just hope libertarian whackjobs don’t pull people’s arms out of their sockets when they lose.
  • NV-Sen: Like Hyman Roth introducing Michael Corleone to his network of gangsters, John Ensign is putting his arm around Sharron Angle’s shoulder and shepherding her to a lunch today with Republican senators. (Actually, if anything, Ensign reminds me of Senator Geary, also of Nevada.) Meanwhile, Harry Reid’s streak of good fortune continues: Mitch McConnell announced that he won’t campaign against the Majority Leader. Does anyone really believe that McConnell is doing this to restore the supposed “comity” that Bill Frist allegedly shredded when he campaigned against Tom Daschle in 2004? If it would even give the GOP the slightest edge, I’m sure Mitch would be in Vegas tomorrow. Nah, I think even McConnell must sense the tide turning in this race.
  • AL-Gov: The recount to see who gets to make the GOP runoff is set to get underway. Tim James trails Robert Bentley for second place by 167 votes (almost half a million total were cast in the primary). James has had to mail checks to every one of Alabama’s 67 counties to pay for the recount, totally some $200,000. Officials expect results either Thursday or Friday.
  • SC-Gov: It looks like Henry McMaster has a little more sense than Andre Bauer: the state AG is going to endorse front-runner Nikki Haley today in the runoff, while the Lt. Gov. previously endorsed Gresham Barrett, widely seen as a no-hoper at this point.
  • FL-08: At the link is what will supposedly be Alan Grayson’s first TV ad of the cycle. It’s not up yet – he’s busy flogging it to push people to donate so that he can air it, since he only has $1.5 million in the bank. Pretty weird, disjointed ad if you ask me, with a garbled message.
  • GA-04: Shirley Franklin, who was mayor of Atlanta until this year, endorsed Dem Rep. Hank Johnson in his bid for re-election. Johnson faces a primary challenge from DeKalb County Commissioner Connie Stokes, and former DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones.
  • NM-03: Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, and Dale Peterson – step aside. Tom Mullins has officially come up with the most insane Republican idea of the cycle: he thinks we could put land mines (!!!!!) along the US-Mexico border to deter illegal immigration. I love it when Republicans get all eliminationist with their rhetoric.
  • MS-01: The Tarrance Group (R) for Alan Nunnelee (6/8-9, likely voters, March in parens):

    Travis Childers (D-inc): 42 (51)

    Alan Nunnelee (R): 50 (42)

    (MoE: ±5.6%)

    Nunnelee favorables: 44/8. Childers favorables: 49/30. Obama approval: 36%.

  • SC-04: Bob Inglis has a week left in his runoff against Trey Gowdy, but it sounds like he’s already playing his swan song. Inglis has dropped all negative attacks on his opponent and instead is launching a final ad which takes swipes at Washington, DC – a tough move for an incumbent to pull off, to say the least. Politico speculates that perhaps Inglis is trying to win over supporters of the also-rans, but that seems like a fridge too far at this late date. P’co also notes that Inglis isn’t revealing the size of the ad buy. Also curious to me is the fact that the NRCC doesn’t seem to have done anything to help one of their own here.
  • Polltopia: It’s that time again: Head over to Public Policy Polling’s website to vote on your favorite place to poll.
  • NM-01, NM-02, NM-03: Teague Trails Pearce By 2

    Public Policy Polling (2/18-20, registered voters):

    Martin Heinrich (D-inc): 45

    Jon Barela (R): 36

    Undecided: 19

    Harry Teague (D-inc): 41

    Steve Pearce (R): 43

    Undecided: 16

    Ben Lujan (D-inc): 40

    Adam Kokesh (R): 32

    Undecided: 28

    Ben Lujan (D-inc): 42

    Tom Mullins (R): 36

    Undecided: 22

    (MoE: ±4.9%)

    PPP’s NM-Gov sample comes with an added bonus: results for each of the Land of Enchantment’s three House races. The big ticket item here is NM-02, where Rep. Harry Teague is considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents going into November. That’s not so much because of the district’s lean (it’s R+6 and has a Hispanic plurality — Walt Minnick and Bobby Bright would kill for R+6) but because Teague is facing off against ex-Rep. Steve Pearce, who held the district for a number of years until his ill-fated 2008 Senate run, and is still well-thought-of here (as seen by his 43/31 favorables). While I’d certainly prefer to see Teague leading, all things considered, the 43-41 lead for Pearce feels not-that-bad. Like Tom Perriello in VA-05, Teague seems to have been already written off as a casualty by mainstream media pundits, not only having won a superficially-fluky victory in a reddish district but also having voted for cap-and-trade instead of cowering with the Blue Dogs. And yet (just like Perriello) PPP finds him in a dead heat.

    The race in the 1st — between freshman Rep. Martin Heinrich and Jon Barela, the former head of Albuquerque’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce — is one that, even before this poll, I’d have classified as “Likely D,” given the district’s lean (D+5) and Heinrich’s convincing 2008 victory. The Republicans will have to make a serious dent in the currently “Likely D” seats in order to retake the majority, but it’s looking like NM-01 isn’t on track to be one of those seats where they do.

    In fact, the Republicans actually come a little closer in the 3rd, which is the state’s traditionally most Democratic-friendly district at D+7 (although this was briefly held by a Republican in the 1990s after a surprisingly strong Green Party performance in a special election). Part of the problem may lie with its Rep, Ben Lujan (the only one of the three to sport negative approvals, at 31/40 — Teague, by comparison, is at 41/36), but I suspect the 3rd is also a very difficult district to poll. It’s a rural, impoverished district where a sizable number of the Democratic base voters may not speak English or have landlines, which may give more weight to the district’s Republicans clustered around Farmington.

    RaceTracker Wiki: NM-01 | NM-02 | NM-03