Republicans, on the other hand, have landed top recruits several competitive races this cycle, among them Reps. Dean Heller
(R-Nev.), Denny Rehberg
(R-Mont.) and Jeff Flake
(R-Ariz.), former Sen. George Allen
(R-Va.) and Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning
Democrats are eagerly awaiting word from Rep. Shelley Berkley
(D-Nev.), who is weighing a challenge to Heller, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine
, who appears increasingly likely
to run in Virginia.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee cast Heinrich as too liberal for New Mexico voters.
"A big problem for Martin Heinrich is that there is a mile-wide gap between his moderate rhetoric versus his very liberal record. Heinrich has consistently voted with the liberal wing of his party, helping his Democrat bosses ram through their massive health care overhaul, their job-killing cap-and-trade energy tax, and their failed $787 billion stimulus debacle," said NRSC spokesperson Brian Walsh
Heinrich is a top get for Democrats, but there's no guarantee he will be able to clear the Democratic field without some serious competition. State Auditor Hector Balderas
(D), Rep. Ben Ray Lujan
and former Lt. Gov. Diane Denish
(D), the 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nominee, could each still enter the race for the open seat. Meanwhile, Albuquerque activist Andres Valdez
(D), a long-shot candidate, announced his candidacy
The Republican field is already crowded. Former Rep. Heather Wilson
is the establishment's preferred candidate, but she lost a primary in 2008 after being cast as too moderate for the state GOP. Lt. Gov. John Sanchez
(R) is likely to jump in the race as well, and he's made clear he will also portray Wilson as a centrist.
Wilson has defended her conservative credentials, but she has so far abstained from going directly after Sanchez, citing the fact that he is not yet officially in the race. Democrats, meanwhile, already have Sanchez on their radar and have targeted him in a fundraising email to supporters.
State Sen. Eric Griego
(D) announced Friday
that he will form an exploratory committee to consider a run for Heinrich's congressional seat. And the Albuquerque Journal reports
Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis
(R) is expected to announce his candidacy for the 1st District seat on Sunday. Former state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones
(R), who ran for governor in 2010, has formed an exploratory committee to consider a run for the seat as well.