Yesterday, US Rep. Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs), serving his seventh non-consecutive term in the House, announced that he will enter the open Governor’s race next year. Several Democratic candidates have recently jumped into the 2nd District congressional race for next year, thus signaling the strong possibility that Mr. Pearce would run for Governor. So far, he is the first major Republican in the race, but Lt. Gov. John Sanchez and Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry still maintain they are considering their own respective candidacies. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-Albuquerque) seems to have the inside track to the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
This will be Rep. Pearce’s second statewide race. In 2008, he vacated his US House seat to run for Senate, scoring an upset Republican primary win over Rep. Heather Wilson (R-Albuquerque), but losing to Democratic Rep. Tom Udall (D-Santa Fe) in the general election. Establishing himself early in this statewide primary may well allow him to shut out both Messrs. Sanchez and Berry. Such would then set-up an all-congressional gubernatorial general election between Reps. Grisham and Pearce.
Gov. Susana Martinez (R) is ineligible to seek a third term. New Mexico trends Democratic, so Rep. Pearce must be rated as an underdog in the general election at least at the campaign’s onset. Pearce’s presence in the race ensures that New Mexico will host a highly competitive open gubernatorial campaign.
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