Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 14, 2016

New Mexico: Heather Wilson Talks Senate Prospects

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Rep. Heather Wilson (R) said today that she bucked her party’s leadership several times during her House tenure and that reaching out to both Republicans and independents for her Senate bid are not mutually exclusive ventures.

Whether Wilson can successfully appeal to both voting blocs could prove decisive in New Mexico this November. Wilson’s opponent, Rep. Martin Heinrich (D), who holds her old House seat, has led the former Congresswoman in recent polls, and she’ll need strong support from Republicans, independents and even some conservative Democrats to win the Democratic-leaning state’s open Senate seat this year.

Speaking with reporters in Washington, D.C., this morning, Wilson stressed that she is independent “in the sense of looking at particular issues and thinking about them and how they affect people, and that means I don’t always agree with people of my own party.”

Wilson spoke with reporters at the National Republican Senatorial Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill to discuss her Senate race against Heinrich, who has a slight edge in polling and cash on hand.

Wilson consultant Todd Harris said Wilson’s history of winning crossover voters gives her a chance to win even under the likely scenario that President Barack Obama carries the state. Wilson’s pollster Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies, said the campaign’s latest internal poll from last month had Heinrich leading 48 percent to 45 percent, within the margin of error and consistent with other polls released in recent weeks.

Heinrich told Roll Call last week that he won about two-thirds of Hispanic voters in past elections and that a strong turnout operation from Democrats gives him the advantage this year.

Roll Call Rates this race as a Tossup.


    Even w/o primary opposition, Wilson is still regarded with suspicion by the hardright ideologues and “Little Texas” dwellers, even as Heinrich will likely have the upper hand in CD-01. As for the Other Big Race, BHO has both demographics and history on his side: His is of mixed ethnic heritage, as the state has a surfeit of voters w/ hybrid ancestry. And in the only 2 occasions that this state voted for the loser of the EC (and hence the presidency) it voted for the incumbent party – Ford in 1976 and Gore in 2000. Therefore, for the time being, the Ds must be considered to be at least precariously favoured in both statewide contests.

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