Domenici Endorses Wilson in Senate Race

Posted May 31, 2008 at 11:11am

Outgoing Sen. Pete Domenici (R) on Friday endorsed Rep. Heather Wilson over Rep. Steve Pearce in New Mexico’s hotly contested Senate Republican primary, possibly giving Wilson the boost she’ll need to hold off Pearce in Tuesday’s contest. Despite the fact that Domenici is Wilson’s political patron and originally recruited her to run for the 1st district seat she is vacating to run for Senate, the six-term Senator had refused for months to take sides in the primary to succeed him as the Republican nominee in this year’s general election. But that changed on Friday, just four days before New Mexico’s June 3 primaries. The Wilson campaign declined to comment on the potential political ramifications of Domenici’s endorsement when reached by telephone on Saturday. But a campaign official noted that the Senator and the Congresswoman have had a close personal relationship for many years and that his endorsement meant a lot to her on a personal level. In a statement released to the media that was made available by the Wilson campaign, Domenici blamed his decision to shun Pearce and pick sides in Senate primary on the Club for Growth involvement in the campaign on behalf of Congressman’s candidacy. “Heretofore I have been reserved in commenting on the Republican primary race for the U.S. Senate. However, I have become increasingly concerned that, even after I asked that the Club for Growth not be allowed to try to influence this election, they put at least $200,000 in television advertising in this race to try to do just that,” Domenici said. “Heather Wilson is the brightest member of Congress I know and I hope she wins. I do want to tell all New Mexicans that today I cast my vote for Heather Wilson in the Senate race.” Pearce, running as solid conservative in a closed Republican primary, is believed to have an edge over Wilson in Tuesday’s primary. Wilson represents a Democratic-leaning district and has governed as a moderate Republican during her tenure in the House, while Pearce’s voting record on the House floor has reflected the more conservative nature the 2nd district he holds. The winner of the primary will face Rep. Tom Udall (D) in November. Udall is a former two-term state attorney general and begins the race as the favorite. He is vacating the 3rd district to run for Senate. – David M. Drucker