Jon Barela, an attorney, businessman and former vice chairman of the New Mexico Republican Party, formally announced late last week that he will challenge freshman Rep. Martin Heinrich (D) in 2010.
Barela plans to make profligate federal spending a key component of his campaign.
“Government spending is out of control and the money to fund that blank check in Washington is coming out of the paychecks of New Mexico workers and [is] costing us jobs right here at home,— Barela said in a statement.
Republicans are hoping to quickly take back the heavily Hispanic, Albuquerque-based 1st district, which flipped to the Democratic column last year for the first time since the 1960s. The district appears to be trending solidly in Democrats’ direction: Heinrich took 56 percent of the vote, and President Barack Obama won the district by 20 points.
If Barela wins the GOP nod — he may face a primary with Kevin Daniels, the owner of a funeral home chain — he would be the party’s first Hispanic nominee since 1988.
Barela has already hired Sara Lister as his campaign manager; she managed the campaign of Darren White, the 2008 Republican nominee.