Heinrich also served as Natural Resources Trustee for the State of New Mexico, and has drawn strong support from environmental groups. That support included an early and big ad buy from the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, the National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund. The groups are also behind a smart piece of legislation from Heinrich that would make sure that public lands that are supposed to be open to the public for fishing, hunting, and recreation, but where access is blocked. What's smart about this legislation is that it creates a natural coalition between groups that might not normally work together: the "hook and gun" crowd and environmentalists. Access for hunting and fishing on public lands is a big issue in the West, and one where two often opposing groups find common ground. It's smart coalition building, that broadens Heinrich's appeal across the state.
The other thing that should broaden Heinrich's appeal for progressives is his opponent, Heather Wilson. If you've been around a while, you'll remember that Wilson was Heinrich's NM-01 predecessor. She resigned the seat to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Pete Domenici, but lost her primary. You might also remember Wilson because of her involvement back in the bad old days with the Bush administration, Alberto Gonzales, and the prosecutor purge. Former New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, a Republican and one of the eight fired prosecutors in the purge, has consistently alleged that Wilson pressured him to take action on a political corruption case that Wilson was using as political fodder against her opponent Patricia Madrid. When Iglesias pushed back, Wilson pushed Gonzales to fire Iglesias, which he did. Wilson continues to deny the allegations, but even Karl Rove has confirmed them. This incident helped Wilson become one of the most corrupt members of the 110th Congress, as compiled by the nonpartisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
If you've been keeping up on the War on Voting, you'll also remember that a person associated with her campaign was caught trying to manufacture evidence of voter fraud. The husband of one of Wilson's senior campaign aides registered the family dog to vote in order "to expose the problems with the registration system," proving once again that voter registration fraud pretty much only exists when Republican operatives commit it to prove it exists. That's the Heather Wilson ethos. So is going negative in the campaign, right out of the gate.
Heinrich has maintained a five-point lead in PPP's polling of the race over the last three months, holding at 48-43. And Wilson has a growing problem of disapproval. "Where she had a net -5 favorability spread before (40-45), that is now -11 (38-49)." Her early launch into negative campaigning isn't likely to help her close that favorability spread.
This race is certainly winnable. Tom Udall carried it 61-39 in the 2008 Senate race, and Barack Obama won it 57-43. Martin Heinrich is in a strong position to help keep New Mexico blue in 2012. And to help Upgrade the Senate by adding another voice for filibuster reform, for protecting Social Security and Medicare, for comprehensive immigration reform, and for workers' rights.
Answers to the Orange to Blue candidate questionnaire are below the fold.
Orange to Blue Questionnaire – U.S. Senate Candidate Martin Heinrich, 2012
1. Do you support:
a) A public health insurance option, offered by the federal government and tied to Medicare reimbursement rates plus 5% (H.R. 3200, Subtitle B, including § 223(b)(1)(A), as introduced in the House, 111th Congress)?
b) The Medicare You Can Buy Into Act (H.R. 4789, 111th Congress), which would allow all citizens or permanent residents to buy into Medicare?
2. Do you agree that any immigration reform bill should:
a) Contain a meaningful path to citizenship—one that does not include overly-punitive fines or a touchback requirement—for law-abiding undocumented immigrants currently in the United States;
Yes. I was an original cosponsor of H.R. 4321, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act in the 111th Congress.
b) Ensure that expanded legal permanent immigration, rather than expansion of temporary worker programs, serves as the United States' primary external answer to workforce shortages; and
c) Ensure that any non-agricultural temporary worker programs maintain current caps on the total number of non-agricultural temporary worker visas issued, and also include a meaningful prevailing wage requirement keyed to the Service Contract Act and the Davis-Bacon Act?
3. Do you oppose each of the following changes to Social Security and Medicare:
a) Raising the retirement age;
b) Eliminating or reducing the cost of living adjustment;
c) Directly reducing benefits;
d) Means-testing recipients; and
e) Privatization or so-called "personal accounts"?
4. Do you support the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 1409/S. 560, 111th Congress), including the provision known as "card check"?
Yes, I was an original cosponsor.
5. Do you pledge to vote against any efforts to extend the temporary tax cuts for income over $250,000 (Public Law 111-312)?
6. If elected, do you pledge to restore majority rule to the Senate and work/vote to end the filibuster?
I support Senator Tom Udall's efforts to reform the filibuster through the constitutional option. I look forward to working alongside Senator Udall to ensure that the Senate rules do not result in gridlock or prevent vital legislation from moving forward.