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Denish, Chávez consider running for U.S. House seat

Diane Denish (left, photo by Heath Haussamen) and Martin Chávez (right, courtesy photo)

Former Lt. Gov. Diane Denish and former Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chávez are considering running for the 1st Congressional District seat being vacated by Martin Heinrich, NMPolitics.net has learned.

Denish and Chávez, both former gubernatorial nominees, are the best-known Democrats to publicly surface as potential candidates thus far.

Chávez is meeting this week with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the fundraising arm of Democrats in the U.S. House, to talk about the possibility of running, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed.

Another source said Denish “has been getting a lot of encouragement from inside the district, and with solid name ID and a strong base there, she has time to test the waters.”

Denish had been considering running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Jeff Bingaman. Whether she is still considering the Senate race isn’t clear.

Heinrich is the best-known Democrat to have entered the Senate race. His departure from the U.S. House has led many to consider running for the seat.

No Democrats have formally entered the race to replace Heinrich, but state Sen. Eric Griego of Albuquerque has formed an exploratory committee. In addition, state Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas of Albuquerque and Terry Brunner, Bingaman’s former state director who now heads USDA Rural Development in New Mexico, say they are seriously considering running.


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On the Republican side, Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis has entered the race, and former gubernatorial candidate and state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones of Albuquerque has formed an exploratory committee.

Denish and Chávez both lost their last elections. Chávez was booted from office by voters in 2009, and Denish lost the governor’s race last year to Republican Susana Martinez.

They’re also former running mates. When Chávez unsuccessfully challenged then-Gov. Gary Johnson in 1998, Denish was the Democratic Party’s nominee for lieutenant governor.

Both have strong bases and the ability to raise money, and could be formidable candidates. But sources say there might also be room in the Democratic primary for a rising star.

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

  1. Icarus,
    Agreed on denish. There were alot of younger dems who were pissed off at her due to the fact that all the decent jobs in her campaign were filled by out of state consultants or her kids. She is a resident of Albuquerque and lives around Constitution and Washington. (in the really expensive section of that neighborhood.)

    As for Marty, he did sell his house and was working for a green energy think tank in DC, but all that is required is 6 months so he has plenty of time.

    Princess Di, please go away.
    Mayor Marty, please stay gone.

  2. I’ve known for a while that Denish was considering a run for Senate, though this is the first I’ve heard of her deciding to run for the House. The general feeling from everyone I’ve spoken to was that there’s far too much animosity towards her from within the party for spending fully 1/4th of her campaign budget to bring in out-of-state advisers to show her how to run a pathetic campaign.

    As for Chávez… well, I’m hardly the only person to have told him that no one outside of Albuquerque ever wanted to vote for him, so his constant attempts at the Senate and the governorship have become pointless. As for a run for the first district, the voters within Albuquerque have become bored with doing so. Had he run three years ago when the seat was vacant, he probably could have won, but now it may be far too late. Come to think of it, is he even a resident anymore? Last I checked, he had sold his house and moved to D.C. For that matter, wouldn’t Denish have to change her residency to run for the 1st as well?

  3. I personally believe that it’s time for a “rising star”. Both Denish and Chavez have been playing the political game for so many years, but neither has been able to “hit the homerun” or “find the endzone”. My fear would be that the same thing would happen yet again, if either were to become the Dem nominee. Both Denish and Chavez would most likely move directly to the middle (as Denish did during the Gov campaign) to try and please the non base. This is a year in which the Dems need to impress the base and stick to their convictions. I’m tired of seeing “Dems” who try to move to the middle right away, while we see Repub’s fly to the far right during their campaigns. We do not need middle of the road folks like Denish or Chavez, we need a nominee who is willing to walk the walk and talk the talk, and more importantly stick to their convictions and beliefs!

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