After announcing his 2012 U.S. Senate campaign on-line Saturday morning, New Mexico Congressman Martin Heinrich, wearing black boots and black jeans, met with reporters for less than ten minutes at the National Hispanic Cultural Center to talk about the biggest campaign of his life and his first state-wide race.
Now he plans to spend the next 12 months, traveling the state, trying to convince Democratic primary voters he's a "good guy" and the right candidate to replace retiring five-term U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, who announced his retirement earlier this year.
The second-term representative is the second Democrat to announce a bid for the Senate seat. In February, State Auditor Hector Balderas told us in an exclusive video that he's seriously considering his own bid. State Treasurer James Lewis, and former Lt. Governor Diane Denish have also said they are considering entering the primary race. Albuquerque community activist Andres Valdez was the first Democrat to announce.
Republican Heather Wilson formally entered the race last month. And, Lt. Gov. John Sanchez is expected to announce a decision in April. Second Congressional District Rep. Steve Pearce has not ruled out a campaign of his own.Republicans Greg Sowards and William S. English, who are not well known yet, have also entered the Republican primary race.
Heinrich said he has not determined a campaign budget, and wouldn't speculate on how much money would be needed to win both a primary and general election race, but analysts say both he and Wilson have a money advantage, because they can roll over any federal campaign donations they already have in their accounts.
The congressman's staffers said Heinrich was expected to return to Washington on Tuesday as the war of words over the federal budget notches up, and as negotiations, between Democrats and Republicans, continue. A budget must be passed by Friday or the government will come to a halt.
Heinrich, who will vacate his House seat, told reporters constituent services will not be impacted by his 2012 campaign.