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Outgoing Rep. Steve Pearce (R) is gearing up to run for chairman of the New Mexico Republican Party, according to Joe Monahan, a prominent political blogger in the Land of Enchantment.

Pearce, who was trounced in the 2008 Senate election by Rep. Tom Udall (D), has been calling party activists in advance of January’s scheduled vote. Pearce is the favorite of GOP conservatives in the state, but he could face a challenge in the chairman’s race from someone in the party’s moderate wing allied with retiring Sen. Pete Domenici (R) and outgoing Rep. Heather Wilson (R), whom Pearce defeated in the GOP Senate primary.

Once possible candidate from the moderate wing, according to Monahan, is physician Allen McCulloch, who was swamped by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D) in the 2006 Senate race.

New Mexico Republicans are trying to pick up the pieces from a disastrous election in which their Congressional delegation went from three Republicans and two Democrats to five Democrats and no Republicans.

Monahan reported that the outgoing GOP chairman is trying to delay the vote on his successor until February, presumably so a strong candidate has sufficient time to build support against Pearce.

With Pearce’s desire to become chairman, it is not clear what his plans are for 2010. Some New Mexico insiders have speculated that he wants to run for his old seat, which Rep.-elect Harry Teague (D) captured on Election Day.

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