GOP to target NM's congressional seats

February 11, 2010

The National Republican Party is taking direct aim at Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Rep. Harry Teague, D-N.M.

The GOP challengers of both first-term incumbents appear on list within the National Republican Congressional Committee as top candidates to win Democratic house seats.

Republican Jon Barela, who will face Heinrich in the New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District race, calls the designation a boost to his campaign.

“This designation by the national party will also help fundraising to help us get our message out,” Barela said.

Sources within the GOP party tell News 13 that the designation could lead to major contributions to the Barela campaign from the NRCC. One source indicates that financial boost could reach into the millions of dollars.

At last count, Barela trailed Heinrich nearly four to one in fundraising. Heinrich’s campaign reported a war chest of $1,129,590 through the end of 2009. Barela’s campaign reported $239,910 on hand through the same time period.

When asked for comment on the GOP’s list, Heinrich’s office released a statement that reads, “Representative Heinrich’s focus is not on partisan election plans.”

The statement goes on to explain Heinrich’s focus on the nation’s economic problems.

However, state Democratic Party officials had plenty to say about the GOP’s list.

“We just see it as more silliness from Washington Republicans trying to insert themselves into New Mexican politics,” Democratic Party New Mexico Executive Directory Scott Forrester said.

University of New Mexico political science professor Gabriel Sanchez said the GOP is smart to pump up New Mexico’s house candidates.

“Anytime you target a specific district that looks to be in play, it’s going to generate a lot of funding,” Sanchez said. “I think that might level off some of the funding that Heinrich already has.”

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