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SANTA FE — One year ago, in June 2009, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish was sitting in the catbird seat. She had announced for governor more than two years earlier and had already raised more than $2 million.
A poll had just been published by Harstad Strategic Research of Boulder, Colo., showing Denish leading both Steve Pearce and Heather Wilson by identical 57-35 margins.
Pearce and Wilson were both well known to voters statewide, better known than Denish, in fact. Both had given up their U.S. House seats to seek the Senate seat of the retiring Pete Domenici.
Pearce won the statewide Republican primary and then lost to New Mexico’s other House member, Tom Udall, in the general election. Both Pearce and Wilson had indicated interest in running for governor in 2010 and both were considered strong candidates.
Life couldn’t look rosier for Denish. But recently elected state GOP Chairman Harvey Yates, Jr. had other ideas. By July, the whole picture started changing.
Pearce announced that he would seek to reclaim his former 2nd Congressional District seat. Wilson announced she was very busy with her consulting business and wasn’t sure if she would run for anything. A few months later she made it official. She was staying out.
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