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Sanchez is ‘seriously considering’ Senate run

Lt. Gov. John Sanchez (Photo by Heath Haussamen)

Lt. Gov. John Sanchez is seriously considering running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Jeff Bingaman, but don’t expect him to make a decision anytime soon.

“The lieutenant governor is seriously considering it,” the Republican Sanchez’s spokesman, Mark Van Dyke, told NMPolitics.net. But he added that Sanchez is currently focused on the legislative session.

And following the session, Sanchez has promised to travel the state to report to communities on the Legislature’s work, Van Dyke said. Then, there’s the coming special session on redistricting that will most likely be held in the fall.

So, Van Dyke said, Sanchez isn’t likely to make a decision on the Senate race anytime soon.

“There are still a lot of challenges facing the State of New Mexico,” Van Dyke said. “It’s very premature for the lieutenant governor to weigh in on this race.”

Sanchez is a heavy hitter who could be a significant player in the Senate race. In 2000, he defeated the longest-serving Speaker of the House in New Mexico history in winning a legislative seat. In 2002 he was the GOP nominee for governor, losing that year to Democrat Bill Richardson.

Last year, Sanchez spent several hundred thousand dollars of his own money to become the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor and run alongside Susana Martinez.

A match-up against Heather Wilson

If Sanchez decides to run for Senate, he’ll join former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson in the GOP primary. Wilson is formally entering the race today and is labeled by many as the frontrunner for the party’s nomination.


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In addition, two lesser-known Republicans – Greg Sowards and William S. English – have already entered the race. No Democrats have entered the Senate race.

Some Republicans are looking for a candidate who is to the right of Wilson to be the party’s nominee. There may be an opportunity for one candidate who convinces voters he or she is to the right of Wilson to rise to the top of the pack and challenge her.

Van Dyke said Sanchez is a “proven conservative” and a businessman who is “not going to change his position based on who he’s talking to.”

Wilson lost to Steve Pearce – a candidate further to the right than her – in the 2008 GOP Senate primary. Pearce went on to lose badly to Democrat Tom Udall in the general election, and though Pearce says he’s considering running for Senate again this year, many think he’s unlikely to enter the race.

Some speculate that the party won’t pick someone like Pearce over Wilson this year because doing so proved disastrous for the party in 2008.

But Sanchez’s ethnicity might also be in his favor as the GOP looks to replicate Martinez’s impressive victory in last year’s gubernatorial race, which came largely because independents and conservative Democrats picked her over Democrat Diane Denish.

“The lieutenant governor is receiving a lot of encouragement to run,” Van Dyke said.

Willing to spend his own money

One reason Sanchez is receiving such encouragement is because he proved last year that he is willing to spend his own money to win. That contrasts with Pearce, who has personal wealth but hasn’t spent it on his races, even when he needed more cash to compete in 2008.

On the flip side, some are quick to point out that Sanchez raised almost no money in last year’s primary beyond what he contributed to his own campaign, and they wonder if he can raise outside money to compete in a primary.

After he became the party’s nominee last year, Sanchez did raise more than $150,000 in outside contributions in the general election, his finance reports show.

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8 comments so far. Scroll down to submit your own comment.

  1. A simple rule of politics is that you don’t run for office unless you know 500 people who will write you a campaign check. Some speculate that Sanchez had to self-fund his Lt. Guv campaign because he couldn’t raise the money from supporters. There might be a few people telling John he should run for the US Senate – but are they willing to put their money where their mouth is? Don’t think so.

  2. Guess Sanchez has been tapped by the party to be the sacrficial lamb so that Heather has an opponent.

  3. John Sanchez has a real problem and it’s that Susana Martinez, the state’s most popular Republican politician, doesn’t seem to care for Sanchez at all.

    It doesn’t seem to make sense that she would support him just to get him out of her way. I’d expect Susana to support Heather because of the role she played as Susana’s transition chair. AFter all, she chose Heather….she didn’t choose John.

    It was interesting to notice that many of Susana’s political advisor’s clients like R.J. Berry and Darren White were there to support Heather. That pretty much says a lot.

  4. John Sanchez isn’t well informed. He knows his talking points but he sure isn’t very intellecually curious.

    Isn’t it strange that he hasn’t ever finished his college degree? We are in the 21st century now….we don’t elect uneducated people tobthe Senate anymore.

    While Heather Wilson was earning her PhD at Oxford, Sanchez was collecting trash and passing out drinks on American Airlines. Big difference.

  5. You know who is smart? Susana Martinez. Why? Because she is keeping John Sanchez far far far away from her. He embarrassed her on the campaign trail and certainly doesn’t need him embarrassing her administration.

  6. Parrot:

    Making a broad statement such as:

    em>

    “John Sanchez isn’t smart,”

    without offering support is counterproductive to the discussion. In fact, it’s the same unsupported statement we’ve heard since he ran for Governor. I have heard him speak on several occassions and have met him numerous times, and believe him to be intelligent, sincere, and a man of integrity.

    Perhaps you can enlighten us all on what makes a politician “smart.”

  7. Either way, he’ll continue to have my support and respect, and that of many many others as well.

    There’s just one thing I can’t get past, Just Tex — John Sanchez isn’t smart. Don’t we want smart people representing us in Washington. Just sayin’……

  8. John Sanchez would be a welcome breath of fresh air, in a race that might otherwise turn into a mud-fest. If he decides to run he’ll be at least as competitive as any other Republican.

    And if he does run, and runs hard, and hones his message well without being sidetracked by non-issues, he’ll win both the GOP primary and then go on to win in the general election.

    But it’s a huge decision, especially for someone with very deep roots to home. So he shouldn’t and won’t make this decision lightly. Either way, he’ll continue to have my support and respect, and that of many many others as well.

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