Jon Barela announced today that he is passing on a second bid for New Mexico’s 1st district, a blow to Republicans hoping to win back the Albuquerque-based seat.
Barela came up 4 points short in a 2010 challenge to Rep. Martin Heinrich (D). With Heinrich running for Senate and the 1st remaining competitive after redistricting, both parties are targeting the seat.
In 2008, Heinrich became the first Democrat to win the seat since its creation nearly 40 years earlier. With Barela out, Republicans must for now count on three others already in the race: former state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones, Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis and retired Army Sgt. Gary Smith.
On the Democratic side, a competitive primary is expected between former Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez, state Sen. Eric Griego and Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham.
In a statement, Barela, who has served as the state economic development secretary for the past year, said he “received an outpouring of support and encouragement to run” for the seat again and “carefully considered it,” but ultimately opted to stay in his current position.
“This was a difficult decision because there can be so much done on the federal level to improve the economy and the lives of Americans, but I feel this is the time for me to focus on working to make New Mexico the best place to do business so New Mexicans have the opportunity to be prosperous and achieve the American dream,” Barela said.