New Mexico: Martin Heinrich, Heather Wilson Headed for Primary Wins

Rep. Martin Heinrich is expected to face off against his predecessor, ex-Rep. Heather Wilson, in New Mexico's Senate race this fall. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The last two people to represent Albuquerque in Congress are likely to face off in the race for New Mexico’s open Senate seat, a new independent poll found — confirming an outcome that has been expected for weeks.

Rep. Martin Heinrich (D) and former Rep. Heather Wilson (R) held wide leads over their June 5 primary opponents in polls conducted for the Albuquerque Journal by Brian Sanderoff of Research & Polling Inc. They’re vying for the seat of retiring Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D) in what will be a top battleground for control of the Senate.

Heinrich led state Auditor Hector Balderas 51 percent to 26 percent, with 23 percent undecided. Of the two primaries, this is the race that had the potential to be close, with Balderas a young, statewide elected official and rising star in the party.

“The reason Heinrich is doing so well is because he’s strong in his home base of Albuquerque and is competitive among Hispanics,” Sanderoff told the newspaper.

Wilson led wealthy businessman Greg Sowards 66 percent to 20 percent, with 14 percent undecided. She and Heinrich also had wide cash-on-hand leads over their primary opponents as of May 16.

The polls of Democratic and Republican primary voters, who had either voted early or were planning to vote, was conducted May 21-24. The survey of 741 Democratic voters had a 3.6-point margin of error, and the survey of 504 Republican voters had a 4.4-point margin of error.