Republicans hope to hold the New Mexico seat with Rep. Heather Wilson, since the most popular Democratic prospect, Rep. Tom Udall, has decided not to run. Richardson, a former congressman and Clinton administration Cabinet member, has been a popular governor and would be heavily favored for the Senate.
However, friends of Richardson predict he will resist the pressure to be the Senate candidate. Although he is given no chance to win the presidential nomination, Richardson has broken through to the top of the second-tier candidates and is a serious prospect to become Sen. Hillary Clinton's vice-presidential running mate. Party strategists see Richardson, a Mexican-American, appealing to Latino votes in four Western states that could swing the 2008 presidential election: Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.
LOBBYING FOR SCHIP
Newspaper and television ads in Rep. James Walsh's Syracuse, N.Y., district this week boosted the 10-term Republican congressman's support of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) vetoed by President Bush. The advertising, not produced by Walsh and a surprise to him, was put out by the Americans for Children's Health coalition seeking support for the expansion of government-provided health care.
The ads, purchased in districts of Walsh and other Republican congressman who broke with Bush on health care, push them to override the veto.
The coalition consists of member organizations of health care industries: drugs (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America), doctors (American Medical Association), nursing homes (American Health Care Association), consumers (Families USA) and hospitals (Federation of American Hospitals).