Perils of New Mexico's GOP Senate Primary

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By Hal Rhodes

By this time next year, New Mexico Democratic and Republican voters will have chosen their nominees for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, the Democrat who was first elected to that seat in 1982.
Chances are Dems will have settled on either 1st Dist. Congressman Martin Heinrich or state Auditor Hector Balderas.
Republicans, in turn, will likely have opted for Heather Wilson, a former 1st Dist. Congresswoman, or Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, although two lesser-known GOP hopefuls, Greg Sowards and Bill English, are also running.
At this distance, 11 months out, polls are little more than points of departure in a race yet to take shape. Still, a survey conducted late last month by the firm of Public Policy Polling had Heinrich leading Balderas by a margin of two-to-one.
It also found Wilson outdistancing Sanchez by more than two-to-one, 52 to 24 percent, with Sowards and English in the single digits.
 Make of it what you will, but a late April Magellan Data and Mapping Strategies poll put Wilson at 59 percent to Sanchez 17 percent, suggesting some slippage in Wilson’s numbers between April and June.
On the other hand, that April survey was taken before Sanchez officially entered the race, and simply by announcing his candidacy, Sanchez’s numbers were bound to hike a bit.

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