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Pearce Signals He’ll Force Senate GOP Showdown

Rep. Steve Pearce (R) is planning to vacate his 2nd district seat to run for Senate, setting up a brawl to replace Sen. Pete Domenici (R) with Rep. Heather Wilson (R), who is vacating her 1st district seat to do the same.

Pearce is expected to formally announce his candidacy in the next couple weeks, according to those familiar with his plans. Pearce will spend the time until then assembling his campaign team and putting together the necessary campaign infrastructure.

Pearce’s departure from his Las Cruces-area seat has created another opportunity for Democrats in New Mexico, often a swing state in presidential cycles. However, Republicans are confident that the conservative district will remain in their hands come Election Day 2008.

Those candidates running to replace Pearce or considering a bid include state Sen. Leonard Lee Rawson (R), state Rep. Dan Foley (R), 2002 2nd district candidate Earl Greer (R), 2002 2nd district candidate Ed Tinsley (R), Las Cruces Mayor Bill Mattiace, former Lea County Commissioner Harry Teague (D), Doña Ana County Commissioner Bill McCamley (D), state Rep. Joseph Cervantes (D) and 2006 Democratic nominee Al Kissling.

— David M. Drucker

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