Politics

Heather Wilson hopes to defy polls, become New Mexico’s next senator

Photo of Alexis Levinson
Alexis Levinson
Political Reporter

Heather Wilson is hoping to defy the polls.

The former congresswoman is fighting a tough race against Democratic Rep. Martin Heinrich in the hopes of becoming the next senator from New Mexico.

Wilson’s position is less than ideal: Every single poll conducted since February has shown Heinrich leading, and recent polls have him ahead by as many as nine points. On Monday, the Rothenberg Political Report moved the race further into the Democratic column – from “Toss-Up/Tilt Democrat” to “Lean Democrat”

And as of last week, the National Republican Senatorial Campaign (NRSC) cancelled the $3 million worth of airtime that they had reserved to run ads on her behalf.

But Wilson, a veteran of several tough campaigns with a reputation as a solid campaigner, sounded nonplussed in a phone interview with The Daily Caller on Wednesday.

She pointed out the NRSC was not pulling ads that had already begun running – they were simply opting not to run ads for which they had reserved time, as part of a constantly shifting election landscape.

“New Mexico has been, in the past, a swing state,” she said. “It’s not right now… so they’ve moved money around.”

“I expect that the election math is very fluid,” she added. “Decisions will be made and remade in the race.”

In the meantime, Wilson, who has a history of defying the polls, is in it to win.

“This election is almost entirely about jobs, and how we get back to strong economic growth and job creation,” she said. Getting there, she went on, requires “strong enterprise… low taxes… low-cost energy and a moratorium on job-killing regulations.”

On such issues, she told TheDC, “there couldn’t be more of a difference between me and Congressman Heinrich.”

Energy, in particular, is a big issue in New Mexico — an energy producing state — and Wilson decried regulations and restrictions imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Such rules raise the costs of energy, Wilson said.

“Those kinds of things would be devastating,” Wilson said. “When you increase the cost of energy, jobs go elsewhere.”

Several environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters, have banded together to support Heinrich, spending just under $1 million to support Heinrich’s candidacy. Wilson has the support of American Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who have sent roughly the same amount of funds in Wilson’s direction.

“This race will be one of the races that decides the majority in the Senate, and there are very big differences between Congressman Heinrich and myself,” Wilson said.

She pointed to Heinrich’s vote for the stimulus, 22 votes to raise taxes, and support for Obamacare.

By contrast, Wilson said, she puts her faith in “the power of individuals, and their desire to build something better for themselves and their families.”

“We just disagree on all these major things about what kind of country we want to build,” Wilson told TheDC.

Wilson was dismissive of polls that showed her trailing her Democratic opponent.

“Heinrich released a poll last week that said he’s seven points up; we think it’s closer than that,” she said.

She pointed to a Reuters/Zogby poll from 2006 that showed her “being trounced by nine points,” just two weeks before the election. Wilson went on to win the race.

“The poll that matters is the one that happens on Election Day,” she concluded.

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