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New Mexico: State Senate GOP Whip Won’t Seek Pearce’s Seat

State Senate Minority Whip Leonard Lee Rawson, who was considered by some Republicans to be their strongest possible candidate to succeed Rep. Steve Pearce (R), announced Wednesday that he will not run for Congress but instead will seek a sixth term in Santa Fe.

“After prayerful thought and consideration, we have determined that it would be the wrong decision for me to serve in Congress at this time,” Rawson said in an e-mail to supporters.

While three Democrats already are in the race to replace Pearce, who is running for the Senate in 2008, the Republicans are without a formally declared candidate at present. Potential GOP contenders include restaurant-chain owner Ed Tinsley, who ran unsuccessfully for the seat when Pearce won it in 2002, Sierra County Republican Chairman Earl Greer and businessman Phelps Anderson.

On the Democratic side, the candidates in the race are Doña Ana County Commissioner Bill McCamley, former Lea County Commissioner Harry Teague, who has pledged to spend $100,000 of his own money on the race, and the 2006 nominee against Pearce, retired minister Al Kissling. State Rep. Joe Cervantes also is contemplating a bid and could be the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination if he gets in.

— Josh Kurtz

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