New Mexico Democratic Rep. Martin Heinrich announced Sunday that he will consider running for the Senate seat now open in his state in 2012 after Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman announced Friday that he will not seek a sixth term.
In a statement, Heinrich said, "Many constituents and friends across New Mexico have asked if I will run for his seat. I have not yet made a decision, but together with my wife Julie, I plan to actively consider running. Jeff Bingaman and I share a passionate concern for this great state and its people, and my decision will be based on whether I believe I can best serve New Mexico in the House or in the Senate."Heinrich won re-election in a marginal district in 2010, beating highly touted Republican challenger Jon Barela, 52 percent to 48 percent.
In the weeks leading up to the 2010 elections, Heinrich said he thought he was performing well in the polls and was poised to win his race because he did not back down from his record and instead tried to educate his constituents about why he cast the votes he did. Unlike the bulk of his congressional colleagues, he believed credit card reform was a winning issue and used it as a key part of his message in the midterms.
What's more, even before he was sworn into his first term in January of 2007, his top advisers decided to locate many key staffers in his district and place an emphasis on constituent services.
Heinrich maintained in several discussions with RealClearPolitics that he believed Bingaman was going to run for re-election, and he said each time that he hoped he would. He indicated he would know by March whether or not Bingaman was planning to step aside.
Democratic strategists seem most interested in a Heinrich candidacy, but other potential candidates include Democratic Rep. Ben Lujan; Diane Denish, the former lieutenant governor who lost a bid for governor last year; and state Auditor Hector Balderas.
Among the top candidates for Republicans are former Rep. Heather Wilson, who lost a primary for the state's open Senate race in 2008, and Rep. Steve Pearce, who lost the general election for the same Senate race that year.