Sen. Jeff Bingaman's retirement instantly puts his New Mexico seat in jeopardy for Democrats, despite strong performances by the party there in recent years. Roll Call Politics has changed the race rating from Safe Democratic to Tossup.
Bingaman remains popular in the state, and recent polling showed he would cruise to re-election. With him on the ballot, top Republicans may have thought twice about running. Former Rep. Heather Wilson (R) told Roll Call last month that she was seriously considering running for the seat. Bingaman's retirement swings the door wide open for the former Congresswoman to run.
New Mexico Republicans are coming off gains in the midterms. In 2010, Rep. Steve Pearce (R) won back his old seat from a Democratic freshman and Republican Susana Martinez won the gubernatorial race by 8 points.
Still, the seat is by no means lost for Democrats, with a handful of legitimate candidates believed to be considering bids. President Barack Obama carried the state by 15 points in 2008 and is expected to compete there again next year.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.