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Heinrich formally enters U.S. Senate race

U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich

As expected, U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich formally announced today that he is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated next year by Jeff Bingaman.

Heinrich, a Democrat, is expected to talk with the media about his decision at 1 p.m. at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque. In the meantime, he posted a video and a statement online announcing his decision.

“It doesn’t take long in Washington to see that things there just aren’t working,” Heinrich said in the prepared statement. “Big corporations and special interests seem to get all of the breaks while regular New Mexico families are left holding the bill. New Mexico families deserve better.”

“I would be proud to represent you in the U.S. Senate,” he said. “I hope you’ll join me on this journey to provide everyone in this state with a prosperous future worthy of our efforts and our values.”

Heinrich is in his third year representing the Albuquerque-area First Congressional District in Congress. He’s the most high-profile Democrat to enter the race to replace Bingaman thus far. State Auditor Hector Balderas is reportedly leaning toward running, and former Lt. Gov. Diane Denish is also considering the race.

The only other Democrat who has entered the race is the little-known community activist Andres Valdez.

Some say Balderas would give Heinrich a run for his money if he enters the race. Others point to Heinrich’s impressive re-election victory last year – a year that was tough for Democrats in New Mexico and across the nation – to argue that Heinrich has strength among swing voters and that Democrats should nominate him.

The GOP primary

On the Republican side, the most high-profile candidate is former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson, who Heinrich replaced in Congress when she opted instead to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Pete Domenici in 2008. Wilson lost that primary to Steve Pearce, who lost the general election to Democrat Tom Udall.


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Pearce is among the other Republicans considering running for Senate, and he was quick to hit Heinrich today in a news release.

“New Mexico families deserve a senator who will go to Washington to fight on their behalf to create jobs and get our economy moving again,” Pearce said. “In Heinrich, they will only get someone fighting for special interests and the extreme agendas of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.”

Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, another Republican, is seriously considering entering the race. Two lesser-known Republicans – Greg Sowards and William S. English – have entered the race.

CD1 race is wide open

Heinrich’s decision means his House seat is up for grabs next year. Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis, a Republican who formed an exploratory committee weeks ago, is set to formally enter the race on Sunday.

On the Democratic side, state Sen. Eric Griego didn’t wait for Heinrich’s formal entry into the Senate race before he announced Friday that he’s forming a congressional exploratory committee. And Terry Brunner, Bingaman’s former state director who now heads USDA Rural Development in New Mexico, told NMPolitics.net that he’s seriously considering running for the House seat.

“I’ve very much enjoyed my job at USDA and I think we have been effective around the state,” Brunner said. “I am going to look at whether I can continue to be effective by serving New Mexicans in the Congress.”

Update, 1:25 p.m.

State Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, announced that he is also seriously considering running for the House seat Heinrich is vacating.

“This is an exciting time for New Mexicans,” Maestas said in a news release. “Senator Bingaman’s retirement presents an opportunity for a new generation of New Mexicans to provide national leadership.”

“The impulse is for politicians to exploit wedge issues that divide us, but it is imperative to elect leaders with a proven record of bringing people together, particularly in these trying economic times – and that’s exactly why I am considering a run for Congress,” he said.

Update, 2:40 p.m.

I neglected to report earlier that former gubernatorial candidate and state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones, a Republican, has also formed a congressional exploratory committee as she considers running for Heinrich’s seat.

In an e-mail, Arnold-Jones said she just returned from a visit to Washington. She said her “exploratory efforts are positive, and we are moving forward quickly.”

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

  1. When politicians get too big for the people they represent and allow inept staff to deal their constituents, then it suggests they have become just another one of the co-opted, elected elite who are in it for themselves – and this goes for both parties!

  2. Cmon big man Pearce…we’re still waiting. Since Heinrich is such a chump in your opinion and you possess such wisdom and leadership, you are going to run for Senate, arent you? Whats a matter Pearce, dont think you can beat the young liberal Martin Heinrich? Not willing to get out of your right wing comfort zone to bless all New Mexicans with your great American leadership values? Since we know you can beat Heather, are you afraid of pretty boy one term legislator John Sanchez?

    Put up or shut up Pearce. Either back your sanctimonious rhetoric up and run for Senate, or admit you are a scared career politician chump who’s values really dont fit our whole state (since you it would show you donnt think they would agree, i.e vote, for you).

    Still waiting on the career politician Pearce to show us how chicken he is ….

  3. He he. “We need to stop thinking party line and thing about decreasing the debt the Democrats have cost us.”. Think about was said right there… Very consistent:)

  4. I forgot to mention that John Sanchez should also stay where he is. He can do more for the state and the people of New Mexico right where he is.

  5. Before you all start crowing about Heinrich in the race, maybe you should look at his voting record. He has shown to be a Pelosi, Reid yes man for 97% of his voting record. Pelosi and Reid were the ones that took us into the huge spending arena. Is this what the people want? Is this in the best interest of the people of New Mexico and the United States?

    Following the Progressive Democrats into a pit of spending our way out of debt is like cutting our throats. If we are intent on committing suicide, there are much more efficient and rapid ways of doing it and a lot less painful.

    Hopefully Pearce will stay where he can do the most good and not bite at the apple before him. If he decides to give up his position in Congress, he would be committing political suicide and would never be elected again to any post. The people came awake in the 2010, thanks much to the Tea Party drive. I hope they will do the same this election. We have seen the results of a Democrat dominated House and Senate in this state and this country, with rampant spending and mistakes, not to mention the large number of people in the administration brought up on charges for crimes against the people.

    If we go back to the old way of doing business, we are doomed and we will deserve it. At the present time our hope lies in Heather Wilson, Greg Sowards, or possibly Janice Arnold Jones, if she decides to run. We need to stop thinking party line and thing about decreasing the debt the Democrats have cost us.

  6. gm:

    I asked you this once before (almost verbatim), but which of your fellow citizens are you self-righteously deriding as “wacko city”?

  7. problem for Rs is the big majority–20k votes– a Dem will get in wacko city…….very difficult to offset such a majority in the rest of the state where there is more balance….

  8. Great news for Republicans indeed, stever. But it’s unbelievably good news for all New Mexicans because it hopefully means lefty Heinrich won’t be doing the bidding of the radical left special interests – and ignoring the mainstream that makes up NM – in Congress anymore!

    Of course if John Sanchez. Is the GOP nominee then we are all screwed.

  9. Everyone talks about the bad state of the economy, but no one addresses the issue of money spent for unending wars for empire. Both Lujan and Heinrich voted in favor of Obama’s Afghanistan war supplemental last summer. The only jobs young people can consistently count on is a job in the military. An economy devoted to war is like a forest fire. It will rage until all the fuel is exhausted.
    http://www.thenation.com/blog/37978/war-opposition-surges-102-house-dems-12-republicans-oppose-obamas-afghan-war-surge

  10. Good news for republiucans, it would be the same for democrats if Pearce ran again.

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