Republican Joining N.M. Senate Primary

Posted March 10, 2011 at 8:26am

New Mexico Lt. Gov. John Sanchez is poised to join former Rep. Heather Wilson in the Republican primary for the Land of Enchantment’s open Senate seat, according to GOP sources. The move sets up the likelihood of heated GOP primary that could test the loyalties of newly elected Gov. Susana Martinez (R).

Sanchez, who is putting together a campaign team and plans a trip to Washington, D.C., later this month, ran on a ticket with Martinez in their successful 2010 campaign.

Wilson, who lost the 2008 GOP Senate primary to Rep. Steve Pearce, served as chairwoman of the governor’s transition committee following her election on Nov. 2.

Republican sources say Sanchez would position himself to the right of Wilson, who exhibited a somewhat moderate voting record during three terms representing the Democratic-leaning 1st district that includes most of Albuquerque and its surroundings.

While Wilson could be the most viable general election candidate for Republicans in a presidential year, Sanchez — also based in Albuquerque — has previously won two statewide GOP primaries, a feat that has eluded the former Congresswoman.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D) is retiring, and Roll Call Politics rates this race a Tossup.