Lt. Gov. John Sanchez Makes New Mexico Senate Bid Official

Posted May 24, 2011 at 10:59am

New Mexico Lt. Gov. John Sanchez announced Tuesday that he is running for Senate, setting up a high-profile Republican primary contest with former Rep. Heather Wilson.

As part of his campaign rollout, Sanchez told Roll Call he has made a “substantial media buy” to run television ads statewide for the next four days. The ads will do two things: begin the process of introducing Sanchez to voters and demonstrate he is capable of raising and spending a significant amount of money.

“We have a proven track record of being great fundraisers,” Sanchez said in an interview Tuesday morning. “Ultimately donors will get behind not only who they think will win but who represents their conservative values.”

Wilson has been in the race more than two months. Her campaign distributes regular emails touting the endorsements of local leaders, and she reported having more than $280,000 in the bank at the end of March.

But Sanchez says New Mexico voters want a fresh face in Congress, not a moderate who represented Albuquerque for five terms before losing in the 2008 Senate primary.

“Republicans here in New Mexico are looking for a new voice … and a fiscal conservative,” Sanchez said. “They want a common-sense leader who will go to Washington, D.C. Not a Washington insider.”

At least two other Republicans are looking to run: Greg Sowards and Bill English.

Democrats are also facing a potentially competitive primary with Rep. Martin Heinrich and state Auditor Hector Balderas. The primary winners will likely be running in a competitive presidential environment as well, as President Barack Obama is expected to again compete heavily in the state. He won in 2008 with 57 percent of the vote.