New Mexico business executive Allen Weh is considering a challenge to Democratic Sen. Tom Udall in 2014.
The former New Mexico Republican Party chairman and 2010 gubernatorial candidate said in a telephone interview with CQ Roll Call on Tuesday that he expects to decide by spring of next year.
“As anybody should do when considering a move like this, you do your homework ... and gather enough information to make a sound decision,” Weh said.
Weh, 70, is CEO of CSI Aviation Services Inc., an aviation logistics firm he founded in 1979. Weh is capable of self-funding his campaign but said he would not plan to do that.
Udall reported having $294,000 in the bank as of Sept. 30. In his first election to the Senate in 2008, Udall spent more than $7.4 million and defeated GOP Rep. Steve Pearce by 22 points.
Weh said he is not concerned about the state's apparent trend toward Democrats, despite big losses for Republicans at the presidential and Senate levels in 2008 and 2012. President Barack Obama carried the state last month by 10 points, and Rep. Martin Heinrich topped former Rep. Heather A. Wilson by 6 points in the open-seat Senate race.
Calling it a “moderate/conservative” state, Weh said, “I personally don’t believe New Mexico is as blue as it’s been depicted in the last presidential election."
Weh is a retired Marine Corps Reserve colonel and served in combat several times, including in Vietnam and Iraq during the 1990s and the 2000s. He said that upon returning in 2004 from a year of active duty in Iraq, several people, including Wilson and then-Sen. Pete V. Domenici, approached him to take over the state party — despite no prior political activism.
After chairing the party for four and a half years, Weh jumped into the gubernatorial race in 2009. He finished second in the five-candidate GOP primary, losing only to the eventual winner, Gov. Susana Martinez.