Senate primary battles in New Mexico heating up
May 24th, 2011
12:08 PM ET
7 years ago

Senate primary battles in New Mexico heating up

(CNN) - It's getting interesting in New Mexico.

On Tuesday Lt. Gov. John Sanchez announced his bid for the GOP Senate nomination, setting up what could be an interesting primary fight between him and former Republican Rep. Heather Wilson.

Sanchez, who's been considering a bid for a few months, made it official by filing a statement of candidacy, launching a campaign website and putting out a video on the site and on YouTube explaining why he's running to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman, who announced earlier this year that he would not seek a sixth term in office.

In a statement on his website and in the video, Sanchez highlights his modest upbringing and how he worked his way out of poverty. He also highlights what he calls "Republicans spending like Democrats."

In the video, which his campaign said is also running statewide as a TV commercial for the next week, Sanchez says, "it's immoral to think that we are spending money that we don't have. There's too much waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government today. We don't want to return people back to Washington, DC who got us into the mess in the first place. It's time for a new voice. I can be one of those leaders who can stand up for principle conservative values."

The comment appears to be a shot at Wilson, who served ten years in Congress.

Tuesday afternoon, Wilson's campaign responded.

"We welcome Lt. Governor Sanchez into the race and look forward to contrasting Heather Wilson's conservative record with his invented one. On issue after issue John Sanchez is not who he says he is, and Republican voters will be quick to figure that out," said Wilson campaign deputy finance director Heather Wade.

Wilson announced her second bid for the Senate in March. In 2008, she ran for the Senate instead of re-election to her House seat. But she lost a Republican primary contest to Rep. Steve Pearce, who was defeated in the general election by Democrat Tom Udall, a five-term congressman who is now New Mexico's junior senator.

Sanchez, who's considered more conservative than Wilson, was the GOP gubernatorial nominee in 2002, but lost to Democrat Bill Richardson, who went on to serve two terms. Last year, Sanchez won the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor and took office when fellow Republican Susana Martinez won the gubernatorial election last November.

All eyes are on the governor to see if she will now endorse a candidate in the battle for the GOP nomination.

Greg Sowards and William English are also running for the Republican Senate nomination.

It appears Democrats could also have a spirited primary, with two-term Rep. Martin Heinrich and State Auditor Hector Balderas both making bids. Activist Andres Valdez has also announced a bid for the Democratic nomination.

The Hispanic population in New Mexico is skyrocketing. New Census numbers out this spring indicated that Hispanics now represent more than 46 percent of the state's population, with non-Hispanic whites accounting for just over 40 percent of the population.

Two of the top non-partisan political handicappers, the Cook Political Report and the Rothenberg Political Report, both characterize the race to succeed Bingaman as competitive.

Democrats currently have a 53 to 47 majority in the Senate. They are defending 23 seats (21 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party) next year, with the GOP defending 10 seats.

–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

Filed under: 2012 • New Mexico • Senate • Susana Martinez
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. W.

    Sanchez is a frequent and annoying contender in our state's political races. This guy borders on moronic, or at best he is one-dimensional. When Sanchez speaks anyone can easily understand that our state lacks the intellectual foundations or educational motivation adequate enough to support our citizens and their political aspirations, let alone any career choice above the fast food service industries. It is doubtful that Mr. Sanchez could pass a GED. Law school must be far less difficult than I had previously considered.

    May 24, 2011 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  2. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales threw Hispanics under the bus for Bush and now here comes Sanchez to help the Republicans do the same. Former Republican Chairman Michael Steel did the same thing to African Americans and after they used him they threw him under the bus.

    May 24, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    I have no facts about Mr. Sanchez. Sorry, New Mexico, your state is not high on my list. Since the article makes no mention of the Tea Party, then it is possible that Mr. Sanchez is probably a decent public servant. But, if he is on the Republican ticket, and is against the policies of Gov. Richardson (whom I do know about), then he is probably a decent private servant.

    May 24, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. Erik S.

    This ought to be rich, can't wait to read the bile that will be spilled on this thread about John Sanchez.

    May 24, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  5. gt

    its seems odd the democrats are all about the hispanic vote...but many of the elected officials are republicans of hispanic heritage...

    May 24, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  6. me

    Republicans spending like Dems....??? Perhaps when he gets a clue, he'll see that the Dems are better at finances than Repubs are. And CNN, what's the demographic info? It's New Mexico! Of course it has a large Hispanic population. Even former Governor Bill Richardson is Hispanic.

    May 24, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |