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GOP Lands Top Recruit To Run For Wilson's Seat

Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White (R) is expected to announce he is running for Rep. Heather Wilson’s (R-N.M.) House seat as early as tomorrow, giving Republicans a high-profile candidate in what will be a tough district for them to hold.

Wilson announced last week that she will be running for the Senate seat vacated by retiring Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.).

The Albuquerque-based district is one of the most competitive in the nation. John Kerry narrowly carried it with 51 percent of the vote in 2004, and Al Gore won a 48 percent plurality there. Wilson never won more than 55 percent of the vote since first elected in 1998.

White has been re-elected twice in a Democratic-leaning county, and has solid name recognition from his frequent appearances on the local television news. He is meeting with the National Republican Congressional Committee’s political staff today.

“As a sheriff and as a dedicated public servant, Darren brings the kind of experience and commitment that voters are longing for in a candidate,” said NRCC spokesman Ken Spain.

On the Democratic side, Albuquerque city councilor Martin Heinrich has been running for the last five months and has raised $180,000 in the last quarter. Former state Health Department Secretary Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), former state Attorney General Patricia Madrid and state Rep. Al Park (D) are also mulling campaigns.