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Former Rep. Heather Wilson is running on the Republican side and is facing two conservative opponents. Lt. Gov. John Sanchez (R) is also seriously considering running, and his entrance would ensure tough primaries in both parties.
Sanderoff said that either Democrat could have a good chance of winning in November and that a primary does not necessarily hurt the eventual nominee.
“The winner of the race in 2012 — whether it be a Democrat or Republican — will really come down to the mood of the state and nation at that time,” Sanderoff said.
As an attorney and first-term state Representative from Wagon Mound, Balderas became the youngest Hispanic statewide official in 2006 when he was elected state auditor. He was re-elected in 2010 with 55 percent, outperforming all other Democrats on the ticket in two out of the three Congressional districts.
His current office is fairly low profile, insiders said, but Balderas stands to gain from the Senate race even if he loses.
“The hardest thing for Balderas is to differentiate himself,” Clermont said. “But if he runs a good campaign, loses narrowly, doesn’t do anything to hurt his image — he sets himself up for statewide primaries for governor or attorney general” in 2014.