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.