New Mexico: Jon Barela Keeping Name Out of GOP's Senate Hat

There's no challenger on the horizon yet for Sen. Tom Udall. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

New Mexico Republican Jon Barela said he is not planning to challenge Democratic Sen. Tom Udall in 2014.

In a statement to CQ Roll Call, the former congressional candidate and current secretary of the state's Economic Development Department said running for Senate is not in his plans — at least not at the moment.

"I am focused on working to make New Mexico a more competitive place to do business and continue to drive the state’s unemployment numbers down," Barela said. "Though I have been encouraged by many New Mexicans to run, I have no plans at this point in doing so."

Democrat Martin Heinrich, a former congressman who was elected to the Senate in 2012, defeated Barela by 4 points in the 2010 1st District race. Since then, Barela, who once worked in the Capitol Hill office of the late Rep. Joe Skeen, R-N.M., has been at the top of Republican wish lists for Congress and Senate. He declined to run again last year for the Albuquerque-based 1st District.

Republicans' top recruit in the 2012 Senate race was former Rep. Heather Wilson, who lost to Heinrich by 6 points. She told CQ Roll Call on Monday that she won't run again.

The only Republican publicly considering a challenge to Udall is Allen Weh, a former state party chairman who was involved in a heated 2010 primary battle with GOP Gov. Susana Martinez. Weh said in an interview last month that he would decide by this spring.

Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry, a Republican, and GOP Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, who dropped his 2012 Senate bid before the primary, have also been mentioned as possible Senate candidates in 2014.