Since Karen asked, I guess I should comment a bit more thoroughly on what Pete Domenici’s retirement means for the 2008 Senate race in New Mexico. Overheard in Arlington last night:
I think Democrats have a good chance to pick up some seats everywhere, not just in New Mexico.
I think that sums up the situation pretty well.
There’s no way Heather Wilson wins, regardless of who the Dems choose. She had a rough battle against Madrid last year (barely scraping out a win), and the war in Iraq is an even bigger stone around her neck. If she has to compete against Tom Udall (or, in her worst nightmares, Bill Richardson) there’s no way she can distance herself enough from Bush.
Steve Pearce has an even bigger problem: he’s never tried to distance himself from Bush or the Iraq War, and he’s toed the right-wing line in every House vote (see S-CHIP). That might play well for voters in his district, but he’ll be a hard sell in a statewide race.
To be perfectly honest, I’d love nothing more than to see Pearce and Wilson duke it out in a primary battle. But my ideal scenario would see the DCCC shifting the resources they’ve dedicated to defeating Wilson toward supplanting Pearce. It seems unimaginable that the Dems can’t find somebody (and by somebody, I mean there are already some great names being thrown around) to run for Wilson’s seat, and the same is true for Udall’s seat should he enter the race (Democracy for New Mexico says that’s not going to happen). Wilson is more vulnerable now than she has ever been, and Udall’s seat is a secure one for the Democrats.
Those of us living in the south have long felt that Pearce could be vulnerable. The unfortunate media situation (Heath is always talking about this) that feeds Las Cruces residents and others in the southeast news from west Texas rather than New Mexico has always been an obstacle, but it’s one that could be overcome.
Of course, Domenici’s departure from the Senate will have some tangible impacts on New Mexicans. We’ll lose his seniority on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where he and Jeff Bingaman have traded the chairmanship for years (depending on which party controlled the Senate, of course).