Domenici Endorses Wilson Over Pearce For Senate

With just four days left until the Republican primary in New Mexico, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) endorsed Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) as his favored successor, giving the five-term congresswoman a critical boost as she faces an uphill primary battle against her Congressional colleague Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.).

Domenici had stayed out of the primary up until Friday night, despite the fact that Wilson has been his political protégé – and that he more closely identified with her more-moderate brand of Republicanism than Pearce’s sharper conservative philosophy.

Domenici cited the anti-tax Club for Growth’s ad campaign attacking Wilson as the impetus for making the public endorsement, saying that “such outside influences should not be used to try to influence the voters of New Mexico.”

“Heather Wilson is the brightest member of Congress I know and I hope she wins,” Domenici said in a statement. “I do want to tell all New Mexicans that today I cast my vote for Heather Wilson in the Senate race. Having brought her into politics, I have the utmost confidence in her abilities to serve New Mexicans and Americans.”

Pearce’s campaign issued a terse statement, saying they look forward to working with Domenici in the future.

"I respect Senator Domenici and look forward to working with him in the future. Our campaign is in good shape and we are confident of victory on Tuesday," Pearce said in a statement.

Public, automated polling has shown Pearce with a single-digit lead against Wilson– and Wilson’s aggressive campaign tactics (accusing Pearce of voting to cut Social Security in her latest ad) seem to confirm that she is running from behind. She is expected to do well in her home base of Albuquerque, but needs significant turnout there to offset Pearce’s strength throughout much of Southern New Mexico.

The winner of the Republican primary will face Rep. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) in the general election. Udall is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

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