As the DCCC reaches out for back up from lobbyists in a desperate attempt to save vulnerable Freshman Democrat Martin Heinrich’s re-election, the fight for New Mexico’s First District has shifted to Republican candidate Jon Barela’s favor. Voting 97.2 percent with Nancy Pelosi, Heinrich has proven his loyalty to his radical party bosses in just a short amount of time, supporting the stimulus, cap-and-trade and government-run healthcare reform. He will have a difficult time defending his liberal record and progressive ideology to voters in this moderate, swing district. In a district where 43 percent of the constitutents are Hispanic, Heinrich’s re-election becomes even more unstable when you consider his Republican opponent’s unique crossover appeal to Democrats, Hispanics and Independents.
New Mexico’s First District has traditionally been represented by a Republican leader. Heinrich’s victory in 2008 was the first time a Democrat won the seat since 1969, the year the district was created. The district covers the central part of New Mexico, including Albuquerque, as well as outlying suburbs.
Republican Jon Barela is a small business owner and past chairman of the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce, one of the country’s largest Hispanic chambers. Barela has made competitiveness and improving education central themes in his chairmanship of several significant organizations, including New Mexico’s Work Force Development Board and the Albuquerque Public Schools Foundation. He most recently served on the Albuquerque Public Schools Board, helping oversee operations of one of the country’s largest school districts.
Barela was among the first GOP candidates across the country to achieve ‘Young Gun’ status, the top tier of the NRCC’s three-level Young Guns recruitment program. Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report increased the competitiveness ranking of the First District, declaring: “the change in the national mood and an unusually appealing GOP challenger make this definitely a race to watch… Barela’s appeal is real. In a recent interview in the nation’s capital, he came across as thoughtful, mature and likeably low-key… he’s the kind of candidate almost any voter would think would be an asset on Capitol Hill.” After meeting Barela, Rothenberg said “as long as Barela raises enough money to be competitive and the current national mood is unchanged, I’d expect the race in New Mexico’s 1st district to go down to the wire.” Barela reported raising over $520,000 through the first quarter of 2010, bringing his cash on hand to over $392,000. Charlie Cook, of the Cook Political Report called Barela “his party’s ideal candidate against Heinrich.” According to Cook, “Barela boasts appeal from eight former Democratic state legislators and has crossover appeal that should cause Heinrich concern. This is shaping up to be a competitive race.”
With a voting record that is too liberal for the district he represents, the voters of New Mexico’s First District are tired of Heinrich putting his loyalty to Nancy Pelosi before the best interests of his own constituents. New Mexico voters are eager to elect new leadership that will bring back jobs and end government takeovers. Unlike Heinrich, Jon Barela will put economic recovery and fiscal discipline before partisan politics. With the diverse population of the district comes diverse issues and Jon Barela is prepared to pursue the interests of all constituents in the district.