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New Mexico's 1st District: Wilson's Gone, Democrats Line Up

The dominos are starting to fall in New Mexico following Sen. Pete Domenici's (R) retirement announcement late last week.

The first major domino was Rep. Heather Wilson (R) who announced last Friday she would leave the 1st district seat she has held since 1998 to make a run for the open Senate seat.

With Wilson vacating the Albuquerque-based 1st district, Democrats see yet another pickup opportunity as the seat has been a perennial target ever since Wilson won it in a 1998 special election. Wilson is the tenth Republican House member to announce their retirement; just two House Democrats are vacating their seats in 2008.

Here's our sketch of the district:

Geography: The 1st is centered in Albuquerque (Bernalillo County) where the vast majority of its voters live. It also includes Torrance County to the southeast and a portion of Valencia County to the south. The district has a large Hispanic contingent -- 43 percent of the seat's population, according to the 2000 Census.

Electoral Results: This is the definition of a swing district. Rep. Steve Schiff (R) held the seat from 1988 to 1998. When he passed away in March 1998, an extremely competitive special electionw as staged between Wilson -- a Domenici protege -- and state Sen. Phil Maloof. (Yes, that Maloof. The one whose brothers own the Sacramento Kings.) Wilson won the special election with 45 percent (a Green party candidate took 15 percent). She won a full term with 48 percent in November 1998. Democrats immediately targeted Wilson; she won with 50 percent in 2000, 55 percent in 2002, 54 percent in 2004 and then last November Wilson beat former state Attorney General Patricia Madrid (D) by just 861 votes. On the presidential level, the district appears to be moving toward Democrats. Al Gore won it 48 percent to 47 percent over George W. Bush in 2000; four years later Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) carried the 1st with 51 percent as compared to 48 percent for Bush.

Candidates: Albuquerque City Councilman Martin Heinrich has been in the race for several months and had raised $180,000 by the end of June. It seems unlikely he will have the field to himself, however, with the seat now open. Among the other Democrats mentioned: state Rep. Al Park, Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg and former New Mexico Health Secretary Michelle Lujan-Grisham. The Republican most mentioned is Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White and he is seen as the strongest candidate given his name ID and countywide organization. But state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones and state Sen. Joe Carraro are also in the mix.

Outlook: This seat, much like the entire state of New Mexico, is trending toward Democrats. Wilson was able to hold the seat through a combination of tremendous fundraising and a moderate voting record that kept Democrats from linking her to the national Republican party. But, in an open seat race, Democrats begin with an advantage.

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 9, 2007; 9:45 AM ET
Categories:  House  
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Kind671 writes
"Rep. Tom Udall has sent out a statement saying is going to run for re-election in the House rather than go for the Senate race. Gov. Richardson has also pretty much ruled out a run (at least at this time)."

I read somewhere the filing deadline is in late Feb. Could potential Dem candidates be giving Gov Richardson the right of first refusal - in not committing until he knows if he's a viable Presidential candidate any longer?

Posted by: bsimon | October 9, 2007 3:36 PM | Report abuse

"Seriously how low, how filthy, how disgusting, can these animals get?
Posted by: | October 9, 2007 12:29 PM

It's a bottomless pit that can't be measured. It is the realm of the former right-wing Republican Party but now the Neocon Fascist Party which wilfully ignores decency, fair play, legitimate debate, and the separation of power under the Constitution.

Posted by: Janus55 | October 9, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

To Reason:

Rep. Tom Udall has sent out a statement saying is going to run for re-election in the House rather than go for the Senate race. Gov. Richardson has also pretty much ruled out a run (at least at this time).

Posted by: Kind671 | October 9, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

No question NM 1st District is up for grabs. The big question is: will Stevan Pearce run for the open senate seat? If so, a Wilson vs. Pearce primary would be very tough. So, likely, will be the democratic nomination unless Udall or Richardson run. With the polls showing Udall beating out Wilson or Pearce, will he run? He has a very safe seat in the House, and the Democrats are in the majority. Will he really want to forfeit the certainty of maintaining his seat in the majority for an uncertain senate bid? Will Pearce give up his safe seat for a senate bid? He has less to lose, being that Democrats are in the majority in the senate. Still, he has a safe seat to forfeit for a very uncertain senate run. Wilson, on the other hand, has nothing to lose in running for the senate. House R's are in the minority, she is a highly targeted congresswoman with her district being very competitive and she is Domenici's protege and will likely enjoy his backing. It makes perfect sense for her to run. If Pearce wants to make an issue of the ethical questions Wilson faces, he could very well run and win a primary against her. He's also more conserative than she is on issues. It would be a very tough primary. It will be interesting to see how this one develops. I'm betting that Pearce runs and Udall runs, with all 3 house seats open in NM. Pearce and Udall's seats won't chance parties, but Wilson's may. The senate seat and 1st district seat will both be very tight.

Posted by: reason | October 9, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

'The right-wing Jihad against 12-year-old Graeme Frost continues, with Rush taking his cues from already discredited Freeper attacks.

Rush Limbaugh has joined in the smear campaign. On his radio show yesterday, Rush introduced his hit job on Graeme by saying, "I had some rudimentary information on this two weeks ago, and it wasn't enough for me to trust going with. But since then, it has been verified, and most of it's been verified by a 'Freeper' at Free Republic." Apparently, a posting by a "freeper" is all Rush needs for confirmation.

Rush proceeded to recycle the myths that Graeme and his sister must be fat-cat recipients of government welfare because they attend "one of Baltimore's expensive private schools" and own a house in a decent neighborhood. As we noted yesterday, Graeme has a scholarship to the private school. His sister's tuition is covered by the state due to her brain injuries, and the house was purchased for $55,000 in 1991 when the neighborhood was not as safe as it is today.'

Hey zouk -- where's your hit job on brain-damaged children? Haven't gotten around to it yet?

Seriously how low, how filthy, how disgusting, can these animals get?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 9, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Swedish journalist Erik Hansson was arrested for not having a journalist visa when he arrived at Los Angeles airport on 13 May to report on the trade fair for several newspapers and magazines. Several colleagues who also did not have visas were not arrested. Hansson was kept in an unheated room and then questioned. Twelve hours later, he was taken in handcuffs to a police detention centre. The next day he was taken back to the airport where he was held in a cell for nine hours before being deported to Sweden.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 9, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

This is definitely a huge opening for Dems, who already have so many things to look at in the House. Check out these recent House rankings:

Posted by: Daniel | October 9, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse


Are you from NM? I still keep up with Colorado, but have lost track of NM politics (except for Richardson, plus the US Attorney mess).

It seems to me that the state was evenly divided the last two elections. How does it compare with CC's description of the 1st district?

I'm also curious how the recent immigration debate has affected the electorate in NM (especially, but not only, the Hispanic population). The party divide may look very different in 2008 versus 2000 and 2004.

Posted by: J | October 9, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I feel you aussie. Believe me I do. Nobody what's these saboturs. What about sending them to eastern europe? :)

"Seriously the world is worried with what's happening over there. Let's hope there can be some real change that can shake America out of its self-loathing, world hating coma."

"p.s. Rufus, we're not quite sure we permanently want your Republican playmates here en mass... (We'd prefer if you keep Rupert too)...

Feel free to visit when your dollar improves though...


Believe me. I feel you aussie. Sorry for the insult of wanting all republcians sent over there. I don't hate your country. Quite the contrary. I hate murdoch, I will say that, for what he's done to my country. But one man is not representatie of your great nation. Sorry to suggest you were a conservative nation. I feel you. Believe me

Posted by: rufus (aussie view) | October 9, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

George Allen was announced Monday as one of three national co-chairs of Fred Thompson's campaign.

This should tell everyone what type of person Fred Thompson is and what type of judgement he would use as President.

Posted by: Andy R | October 9, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

iN CASE YOU MISSED IT YESTERDAY. fROM THE GHOST WRITER. Sorry if I insinuated you were zouk. My bad, buddy. Do your thing

"'According to Senate Democratic aides, some bloggers have made repeated phone calls to the home of 12-year-old Graeme Frost, demanding information about his family's private life. On Monday, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused GOP leadership aides of "pushing falsehood" in an effort to distract from the political battle over S-CHIP.

"This is a perverse distraction from the issue at hand," said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Reid, D-Nev. "Instead of debating the merits of providing health care to children, some in GOP leadership and their right-wing friends would rather attack a 12-year-old boy and his sister who were in a horrific car accident."

Manley cited an e-mail sent to reporters by a Senate Republican leadership aide, summing up recent blog traffic about the boy's family. A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declined to comment on Manley's charge that GOP aides were complicit in spreading disparaging information about the Frosts.'


Posted by: | October 9, 2007 08:59 AM

Posted by: RUFUS (GHOST WRITER) | October 9, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

"Wilson was able to hold the seat through a combination of tremendous fundraising and a moderate voting record"

Are you hungover from some Christopher Columbus celebrations or are you just Crazy. Wilson is the definition of GOP hack. The reason she Won her elections is by going extremely negative early and often. Luckily she will get stomped in a state-wide election and we won't have to hear about her ever again.
As for her district it will most definitly go Democrat, especially in a presidential year where the blue nature of the state shines the brightest.

Posted by: Andy R | October 9, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

'The intelligence community's warning against war with Iran echo its warnings prior to the invasion of Iraq. Pre-war intelligence forewarned that occupying Iraq could be a "long, difficult and probably turbulent challenge" and would "accelerate" regional terrorism.

Similarly, the administration "ignore[d] the intelligence community's belief that the militant Islamist al-Qaida and Saddam's secular dictatorship were unlikely allies," instead setting up an "alternative intelligence" shop to disseminate false information about Hussein. '

Posted by: Cassandra | October 9, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

'On the Chris Matthews Show today, NBC's Howard Fineman revealed that the intelligence community will release "three different reports" in upcoming weeks to "slow down" the administration's current drumbeat for war with Iran:

The intelligence community over the next few months is going to come out with three different reports on Iran about internal political problems of Iran, about the economy, and about their nuclear capability.

Those are going to be key to decide what the Bush administration is going to do, and it's the intelligence community I think trying to slow down what the president, most particularly the vice president, want to do in Iran.'

This, if true, is huge. The intelligence community is so alarmed by the PR push for an Iran invasion and the lazy, compliant media acceptance of it, that they are trying to stop the bloodbath themselves.

Posted by: Cassandra | October 9, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

The demand for Fred Thompson greatly exceeds the supply.

(And the demand isn't even that high...)

Posted by: Jenn2 | October 9, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Romney is also prepping a new series of opposition attacks against Giuliani, one being his support of the Harvey Milk School in New York, which became a certified educational facility for gay and lesbian high school students during Giuliani's administration as mayor. Prior to Giuliani, it was not a school certified by the city of New York.

"Most voters hear Giuliani, but don't know his background, his previous positions, and they just assume that Governor Romney is the only guy who's had to take different positions because of his constituencies," says the Romney aide. "We're going to make sure voters in Florida know that Rudy is not the social conservative he would have them think he is."

Posted by: mitt goes after rudy | October 9, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

"Fred Thompson -- dumb, but a useful tool."

So who's wielding the tool now?'

Jeri and rover

Posted by: Anonymous | October 9, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

"Fred Thompson -- dumb, but a useful tool."

So who's wielding the tool now?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 9, 2007 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Iraqi authorities want the U.S. government to sever all contracts in Iraq with Blackwater USA within six months. They also want the firm to pay $8 million in compensation to families of each of the 17 people killed when its guards sprayed a traffic circle with heavy machine gun fire last month.

The demands part of an Iraqi government report examined by The Associated Press also called on U.S. authorities to hand over the Blackwater security agents involved in the Sept. 16 shootings to face possible trial in Iraqi courts.

The tone of the Iraqi report appears to signal further strains between the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the White House over the deaths in Nisoor Square which have prompted a series of U.S. and Iraqi probes and raised questions over the use of private security contractors to guard U.S. diplomats and other officials.

Posted by: iraq down the tubes | October 9, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

'In another conversation some weeks later, Nixon and his advisers were still describing Thompson as not very smart but at least beginning to play ball.

"Our approach is now, we've got a pretty good rapport with Fred Thompson. He came through fine for us this morning," White House counsel Fred Buzhardt says on a tape from June 6.

"He isn't very smart, is he?" Nixon asks.

"Not extremely so, but --," Buzhardt says, interrupted by the president.

"But he's friendly," Nixon says.

"But he's, he's friendly," Buzhardt echoes.


A few days later, White House aides are heard saying Thompson will be even more helpful than his boss, Sen. Baker, and that Thompson agreed to secretly help undercut the credibility of White House whistleblower John Dean. '

Fred Thompson -- dumb, but a useful tool.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 9, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

"Wilson is the tenth Republican House member to announce their retirement..."

Quibble: running for an open Senate seat isn't exactly the same thing as a retirement.

Aside from Wilson's political troubles the recent demonstration of just how much the R party hates immigrants should drive Hispanic voters toward the D side. In addition, Rudy's very public upticket posturing to the far right won't do R candidates in this district any favors. Immigration looks more and more like a third rail in American politics.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | October 9, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Cool, Democrats could pick up a Senate and a House seat in one blow. Where do I send the check?

Posted by: Jen | October 9, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

You forgot to mention Wilson's considerable baggage -- the fact that she stole documents regarding her husband from a child protection agency, the fact that she was on the board that was supposedly protecting the interns who were victims of predator Mark Foley -- and her part in the Alberto Gonazales attorney scandal. Sounds like rough sledding fr her -- and deservedly so. Crooked as they come.

Posted by: Soleil | October 9, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

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