Sabatos Crystal Ball

New Mexico Races

House Outlook for 2008

Will the GOP Swing the Pendulum Back?

View All Races

New Mexico (01) (Open Seat)

Outlook: Leans Democratic


June 4, 2008 Update:

The candidates are set in what could prove to be one of the most exciting districts to watch in the 2008 election cycle. Former Albuquerque city councilman Martin Heinrich won the Democratic primary, and Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White won by a wide margin in the Republican contest. The two will vie to replace Republican Heather Wilson, who left the seat to campaign for Senate. Considering how tight Wilson’s bid for reelection became in 2006, a victory by only 0.4 percent, Heinrich and White should have quite a battle on their hands. With New Mexico as one of the key swing states for the presidential election, both McCain and Obama will be spending lots of time trying to win over New Mexico voters; one of them could very well provide the down-ticket boost to push this race one way or the other. But as of right now, the New Mexico 1st is too close to call.


Background

Accusations of ethical impropriety concerning the U.S. attorney scandal heightened interest in New Mexico’s first district even before Representative Heather Wilson left the seat to run for the Senate. Now, both primaries are becoming crowded in what is likely to be one of the most hotly contested races of 2008. Heading the Democratic field is former Albuquerque councilor Martin Heinrich who announced before Wilson’s retirement and has the tacit support of Governor Bill Richardson. His pathway to the nomination is complicated by the candidacies of former health secretary Michelle Lujan-Grisham, ex-secretary of state Rebecca Vigil-Giron, and attorney Robert Pidcock as well has his own unremarkable fundraising.

Republicans, meanwhile, are thrilled over their expected nominee: Bernalillo county sheriff Darren White. White’s local ties and strength on security issues—think Rep. Brad Ellsworth of 06—have revived hopes that a Republican other than Wilson could hold this Democratic-leaning district. White, who has been endorsed by Senator Domenici, has a commanding advantage in a primary against state senator Joe Carraro, and early polls show him beating Heinrich head-to-head. Like last cycle, this will likely be one of the fall’s most competitive races with the strength of White’s candidacy balanced against a pro-Democratic demographic and national mood.

Candidates

Martin Heinrich – Democrat – former Albuquerque City Councilman
Website

Darren White – Republican – Bernalillo County Sheriff
Website

New Mexico (02) (Open Seat)

Outlook: Leans Democratic


June 4, 2008 Update:

Rancher and restaurateur Ed Tinsley won yesterday’s Republican primary, edging out four other candidates vying to replace Steve Pearce, who vacated the seat to run for Senate. Businessman Harry Teague won the Democratic contest, setting up a Teague-Tinsley showdown for November. In a district that went 58 percent for Bush in 2004, and that has been represented by a Republican since 1981, Tinsley looks to be the favorite to succeed Pearce. Teague’s ace-in-the-hole may be his fundraising ability: he outspent the other Democratic candidates by a 2-to-1 margin, and has the ability to continue self-financing his campaign. But money doesn’t always translate into votes, and Teague has an uphill climb if he hopes to gain the seat for the Democrats.


Background

Senator Pete Domenici’s retirement sent shockwaves through New Mexico’s politics, resulting in the vacancy of all three Congressional districts in pursuit of higher office. The second district, formerly represented by Steve Pearce is by far the most conservative, but candidates have been lining up for the open seat race. The Republican field is cluttered with countless candidates led by K-Bob’s Steakhouse owner Ed Tinsley who has some ability to self-fund. Tinsley’s competition includes former state representative Terry Marquardt, ex-Bernalillo GOP director. Bob Cornelius, Sierra GOP chair C. Earl Greer, and rancher Aubrey Dunn Jr.

The Democratic race, if possible, is even more clouded after the withdrawal of frontrunning state representative Joseph Cervantes and includes 2006 nominee Al Kissling, Dona Ana county commissioner Bill McCamley, businessmen Harry Teague, and Frank McKinnon. Cervantes’ departure is especially crippling for Democrats given that he is the only candidate on either side with obvious Hispanic roots in a district that is 47 percent Latino. The seat tilts Republican, but stranger things have happened in a district best known for paranormal activity in Roswell.

Candidates

Harry Teague – Democrat – businessman
Website

Ed Tinsley – Republican – rancher, businessman
Website