Pearce is the only Republican in the New Mexico delegation and Democrats plan to target his 2nd District aggressively in 2014.
A burgeoning Hispanic population in the 2nd District is slowly making that territory more competitive for Democrats. Still, state GOP Chairman John Billingsley praised Pearce’s campaigning skills and said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Washington Democrats say the seat is in play. “But I think they need to take a closer look at his district before they really get serious about it,” Billingsley cautioned.
If Democrats fall short this year, party operatives view Dońa Ana County Commissioners Chairman Billy Garrett, state Sen. Joseph Cervantes and Democratic National Commiteewoman Joni Gutierrez as viable future candidates as well. And if Pearce leaves office, Republicans said Luarkie is a strong contender to run for the seat, though he will need to move into the 2nd District.
Democrats are already talking Lujan Grisham up as a prospective statewide candidate, though she’s in her first term and the 1st District is less competitive. They’re already readying the bench, which includes Matt Biggs, Maggie Hart Stebbins, and Maggie Toulouse Oliver.
Third-term Rep. Ben Ray Luján’s 3rd District is similarly safe for Democrats.
With an eye on the long game, Democrats mention Santa Fe mayoral candidate Javier Gonzales, state Rep. Brian Egolf and state Sen. Peter Wirth as possible successors.
Farm Team is a weekly, state-by-state look at the up-and-coming politicos who may eventually run for Congress.