New Mexico: Heinrich Challenger Makes the D.C. Rounds

Posted September 23, 2009 at 6:02pm

Republicans’ best hopes for ousting two House freshmen have been on the move in recent days, raising money and talking to key interest groups.

Former Rep. Steve Pearce (R), who is challenging his successor, Rep. Harry Teague (D), held a fundraiser outside his district Tuesday night in Albuquerque. The fundraiser, according to New Mexico political blogger Joe Monahan, was hosted by former state Rep. John Sanchez, a wealthy contractor who was the GOP gubernatorial nominee in 2002.

The battle for the southern New Mexico 2nd district seat is expected to be one of the most competitive — and expensive — in the country next year.

Meanwhile, businessman Jon Barela (R), who is challenging freshman Rep. Martin Heinrich (D) in the Albuquerque-based 1st district, was in Washington, D.C., this week making the rounds.

Barela, a former vice chairman of the New Mexico Republican Party and former president of the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce, appears to have the GOP field to himself. Kevin Daniels (R), owner of a funeral home chain who had contemplated a Congressional bid, decided recently not to run.

Although Republicans held the 1st district seat for 40 years until Heinrich’s victory last year, the political trends seem to favor Democrats there, especially now that the seat has changed hands.