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Wilson visits on state tour

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By Katy Korkos

Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., got an earful when she visited Los Alamos recently for one stop on her statewide “listening tour” as she kicked off her race for the United States Senate.“I heard tremendous anxiety about the budget, and what the future holds for Los Alamos,” Wilson said, adding that she was “the leader of the house opposition to those cuts – I strongly opposed the Democratic spending bill.”The congresswoman added that she felt the only alternative to massive budget cuts for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) would be a continuing resolution, under which the budget would remain flat.“It’s not ideal, but it’s better than the house bill,” Wilson said, “given the leadership in the house and the fact that Los Alamos has a congressman that’s not standing up for them.”Wilson said that prior to Thursday’s visit, she was already very familiar with Los Alamos, even though it does not lie in her congressional district, because of all of the various federal funding issues having to do with Los Alamos.She said that she decided to run for the Senate seat, which will open up on the retirement of Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., rather than for the congressional position she has held since June of 1998 because she feels the smaller size of that legislative body would allow her greater influence.“It’s a smaller group, and you get to deal with a broader range of issues,” Wilson said.In a comment in Portales, which she visited on Monday, Wilson said New Mexico provides a disproportionate contribution to the national defense when compared with other states.She said both Los Alamos National Laboratory and county officials visit her offices frequently. “I have a long-established set of relationships here,” Wilson said.She said the most important overarching responsibilities she sees as guiding everything she does are supporting national security and free enterprise.“New Mexico has a unique and important role in our national security through our bases, personnel and national laboratories that help keep New Mexico a leader in defense-related technological research and development,” she said.The centrality of the family in public life is another guiding principle Wilson holds.  “The family is the strongest institution we have,” she said.This week alone, Los Alamos has seen visits from three of the leading contenders for next year’s senate election with Albuquerque mayor Martin Chavez Tuesday, Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., Wednesday and Wilson Thursday.“The great thing about this is you sit down with people from all over the state,” Wilson said.Wilson’s listening tour continued Thursday with a stop in Española, and she will visit Rio Rancho, Edgewood, Quemado, and Grants before the tour comes to an end on Saturday.Wilson is married to Albuquerque attorney Jay Hone, and the couple has three children.On a personal note, Wilson confided that her mother died Wednesday, after a long bout with Alzheimer’s disease. Thursday was the 40th anniversary of her father’s death, she said.