There goes New Mexico Lt. Gov. John Sanchez's day. The Republican running to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman is going to spend his time trying to squash rumors that he'll quit his bid to run for an open House seat instead.
The wound is self-inflicted: A Sanchez staffer, Manuel Gonzales, told the Albuquerque Journal today that the campaign had held "informal conversations" about running for the Albuquerque-based House seat being vacated by Democratic Rep. Martin Heinrich, who's also seeking the Senate seat. Republicans lost their best potential candidate when businessman Jon Barela said he wouldn't run, and Gonzales said some New Mexico Republicans had pushed Sanchez to seek that seat instead.
Sanchez faces a difficult primary against front-running ex-Rep. Heather Wilson, who leads the GOP field both in polling and in fundraising. Wilson finished 2011 with about $1.1 million in the bank; Sanchez has yet to report his fundraising numbers, a hint that they're not going to come close to matching Wilson's haul.
But he's not quitting yet. "Sanchez has no interest in running for Congress," Corbin Casteel, Sanchez's lead consultant, told us in an email.