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N.M. Senate: Pearce's Entry Sets up GOP Primary Clash

Rep. Steve Pearce (R) will run for the New Mexico Senate seat being vacated by Pete Domenici (R) and will announce his intentions in an letter to supporters tomorrow, according to sources close to the congressman.

Rep. Steve Pearce
Rep. Pearce is hoping conservative support will make him the GOP Senate nominee next year. (AP Photo)

Pearce joins Rep. Heather Wilson (R) in the open-seat race, and his candidacy likely sets the stage for a pitched battle between the moderate and conservative factions within the state GOP.

Pearce has held the vast 2nd District seat since 2002, winning reelection easily in 2004 and 2006. He is a favorite of the state's conservatives while Wilson, who has held the Albuquerque-based 1st District since 1998, has a more moderate image and is seen as Domenici's political heir.

Wilson starts the primary with a slight financial edge over Pearce. She ended Spetember with $756,000 in the bank; Pearce had just $582,000 on hand.

The Democratic field is still taking shape, with Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez in the race and Lt. Gov. Diane Denish being heavily pressured by national Democrats to consider a bid. Before Domenici's retirement, both Chavez and Denish were pointed toward the 2010 governor's race. The other name regularly mentioned is former state Attorney General Patricia Madrid, who narrowly lost her bid for Wilson's seat in 2006.

For more on this race and how it fits into the overall state of play, make sure to check out this Friday's Senate Line.

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 16, 2007; 2:59 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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