Pearce Edges Wilson for New Mexico GOP Senate Nod

Posted June 4, 2008 at 6:56am

With nearly all precincts reporting, Rep. Steve Pearce appears to have won a nail-biter Tuesday over Rep. Heather Wilson to secure the Republican Senate nomination in New Mexico. According to unofficial returns posted by the New Mexico secretary of state, Pearce held a 51.3 percent to 48.7 percent lead over Wilson as of early Wednesday morning. He will face Rep. Tom Udall, who was unopposed in the Democratic Senate primary, in November. Sen. Pete Domenici (R) is retiring. His late endorsement of Wilson appears to have been for naught. With all three of the state’s House Members running for Senate, there were competitive primaries Tuesday to replace them. In New Mexico’s 2nd district GOP primary — Pearce vacated the seat to run for Senate — wealthy businessman Ed Tinsley had a solid lead over his nearest competitor in that five-way race with nearly all precincts reporting, according to unofficial returns posted by the secretary of state. Tinsley will face former Lea County Commissioner Harry Teague (D) in the general election. Teague, who like Tinsley has deep pockets for the upcoming race if he chooses, beat the more liberal Doña Ana County Commissioner Bill McCamley in the Democratic primary. With nearly all precincts reporting, Teague appeared to hold off McCamley 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent. In the 2nd ditrict GOP primary, Tinsley beat Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman 31.5 percent to 20.7 percent, despite the over $1 million the National Association of Realtors spent on Newman’s behalf. Retired banker and former Democrat Aubrey Dunn Jr. finished third with 20.3 percent, while Greg Sowards finished fourth with 17.7 percent. Although the southern New Mexico district is conservative, Teague is a conservative Democrat and the race to replace Pearce should be highly competitive in the fall. In New Mexico’s 1st district GOP primary — Wilson vacated the seat to run for Senate — Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White easily defeated state Sen. Joseph Carraro 81.9 percent to 18.1 percent. White moves on to face former Albuquerque City Councilor Martin Heinrich (D) in the general election. Heinrich won a four-way Democratic primary over his nearest competitor by an almost 2-1 margin, holding off former state Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron 43.4 percent to 24.6 percent. Michelle Lujan Grisham, the former state health secretary, finished third with 23.6 percent, and Robert Pidcock brought up the rear with 8.3 percent. The Albuquerque-based district is a swing district in presidential years, and the Heinrich-White contest must be considered a pure tossup heading into the general election. In the competitive 3rd district Democratic primary — Udall vacated the seat to run for Senate — state Corporation Commissioner Ben Ray Lujan easily defeated wealthy developer Don Wiviott 41.6 percent to 25.6 percent. Lujan is the son of state Speaker Ben Lujan (D) and should roll in the general election over Daniel East, who held off former Domenici aide Marco Gonzales in the 3rd district GOP primary 53.8 percent to 46.2 percent. The 3rd district is solid Democratic territory.