Updated at 3:00 p.m.
Former New Mexico Lt. Gov. Diane Denish endorsed state Auditor Hector Balderas' Senate candidacy Wednesday afternoon.
"The Senate needs more leaders like Hector Balderas. Leaders who reject the premise that 'fiscal responsibility' and 'accountability' are Republican words," Denish said in an email to supporters. "Leaders who recognize that typical Washington, D.C. insider politics will not solve the problems that are hurting the hardworking families of New Mexico. I'm confident that leader is Hector Balderas."
Denish served as lieutenant governor for eight years before losing the gubernatorial race last year to now-Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican. The endorsement comes after Balderas announced he raised $400,000 in the second quarter, coming close to matching the fundraising total of his Democratic primary rival, Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.
Balderas remains an underdog against Heinrich, a two-term congressman who has received backing from organized labor and whose campaign has won praise from Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chair Patty Murray. But with at least half of the primary electorate expected to be Hispanic, Balderas' biography gives him a built-in advantage.
Balderas' biggest challenge entering the race was raising enough money and gathering enough establishment support to mount a serious campaign. With a solid fundraising quarter and a prominent New Mexico Democrat on his side, he's on the right track.