Heather Wilson to Launch N.M. Senate Bid

Posted March 4, 2011 at 11:53am

Former Rep. Heather Wilson will announce Monday that she is running for New Mexico’s open Senate seat, a GOP source confirmed to Roll Call.

Wilson told Roll Call in early January that she was considering running for the seat. At the time, she had just finished chairing incoming GOP Gov. Susana Martinez’s transition team.

Reached by phone on Friday, Wilson said she has no further comment at this time.

The announcement will come nearly three weeks after Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D) announced he would not seek a sixth term next year. His exit gives New Mexico just its third open Senate seat since 1948.

Politico first reported that Wilson will announce her bid on Monday.

This is Wilson’s second Senate bid in four years. In 2008 she lost the GOP primary to Rep. Steve Pearce, who went on to take just 39 percent of the vote against now-Sen. Tom Udall (D).

The Wilson-Pearce contest continued a tradition of brutal primaries in the state, and Wilson also faced negative ads from the anti-tax group the Club for Growth. With more than a year to go in the primary, a club spokesman said the group has not decided whether to get involved again.

Two lower-tier Republicans are already running — former Congressional candidate Greg Sowards and businessman Bill English.

“We’re looking at every race,” club spokesman Michael Connolly told Roll Call. “We have a history there and that’s something to look at, but we haven’t made our assessments yet or seen all the candidates that are going to get in the race.”

Democrats considered likely to run include second-term Rep. Martin Heinrich, who won a tight re-election contest last year, and state Auditor Hector Balderas, who won re-election last year with 55 percent of the vote. Balderas was first elected statewide in 2006 at the age of 33.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said in a statement that the moderate Wilson could again have trouble in the primary.

“Heather Wilson’s connections to some of Washington’s darkest scandals and shadiest figures will be a problem for her in a primary and — if she makes it — in a general election,” DSCC spokesman Eric Schultz said.