Udall confirms Senate run; Wiviott to seek House seat

Posted 11/10/2007 07:14:00 PM

The chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., confirmed today that the congressman will run for the Senate seat being vacated next year by Pete Domenici.

Meanwhile, Democrats Don Wiviott and Jim Hannan will drop out of the Senate race as a result of Udall’s decision. Wiviott plans to run for the House seat Udall will be vacating.

The confirmation of Udall’s candidacy comes a day after I reported that Udall had told a number of Democratic insiders he’s running for Senate.

“He’s definitely running,” Tom Nagle, Udall’s chief of staff, told the Associated Press today.

Nagle said Udall plans to make a formal announcement during Congress’ Thanksgiving recess.

Udall will face Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chávez and lesser-known Democrat Leland Lehrman in a Senate primary. While Wiviott and Hannan said they’ll leave the race, Lehrman said he won’t back Udall’s candidacy because Udall doesn’t support impeachment proceedings against Vice President Dick Cheney.

“Although his votes on the environment and civil liberties make us all proud, his Washingtonian willingness to avoid tough issues means that he cannot be trusted with the leadership role a U.S. senator must take,” Lehrman said.

Wiviott said Udall is a friend, in addition to being his congressman. He will defer to him in the Senate race, but said he plans, in running for Udall’s House seat, to stay in the fight to end the Iraq war, protect the environment and improve the education system.

“You have to have the courage of your convictions. That’s why I started in this. That’s why I remain in it,” Wiviott said. “I’m committed to either raise or spend whatever it takes to win (the House race).”

Hannan has said for weeks that he wouldn’t run against Udall, and said on Friday that, if Udall was running, he would “immediately withdraw from the race.”

Hannan once worked for the late U.S. Rep. Mo Udall, D-Ariz. and an uncle of Tom Udall.

‘Too important not to run’

Tom Udall originally said he would not run for the Senate seat, in part because he holds a powerful spot on the House Appropriations Committee. But Washington insiders and a grassroots effort in New Mexico convinced him to change his mind.

“He thinks it’s too important not to run for the Senate,” Nagle told the Associated Press. “A lot of the good things we’ve been able to do (in the House) don’t go anywhere in the Senate.”

Alex Flores, a former Udall intern who started DraftUdall.com, a Web site that helped push Udall to reconsider, said he was excited by today’s announcement.

“This is a great day for New Mexico,” Flores said in a news release. “But it will be an even greater day next November when New Mexico sends Tom Udall to the United States Senate. Now comes the hard work of ensuring that Tom Udall is our democratic nominee and the next senator from New Mexico, and the groundswell of support behind the draft Udall movement will be there every step of the way to help.”

The group has already secured pledges of $30,000 for Udall’s Senate run. At the end of September, Udall had about $800,000 on-hand for his House re-election campaign, and he can transfer all of it to his Senate campaign.

Wiviott won’t be the only one seeking to replace Udall in the House. As many as a dozen Democrats had been seriously considering running for his House seat if he decided to run for Senate. Expect a number of candidate announcements in the coming days.

Udall campaign releases internal polling

The Udall campaign also released today internal polling that confirms what previous polls have shown: At this stage in the contest, Udall has a strong advantage over the Republicans in the race, U.S. Reps. Steve Pearce and Heather Wilson, while Chávez is running tight races against both.

The internal poll found Udall with a 16-point advantage over Wilson and a 17-point advantage over Pearce. Chávez, by comparison, had a four-point advantage over Wilson, while Pearce had a four-point advantage over Chávez.

In a poll of a potential primary, Udall had the support of 50 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, while Chávez had 30 percent and Wiviott had 2 percent.

The poll, conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin and Associates between Oct. 23 and 27, surveyed 500 likely general election voters and 439 likely Democratic primary voters. The margin of error for the general-election survey was 4.3 percent, while it was 4.6 percent for the primary survey.

“The results are clear in demonstrating that Tom Udall is the stronger candidate for U.S. Senate,” the polling company concludes. “His considerable popularity among voters across the political spectrum gives him strong leads in the general election, regardless of Republican opponent. In the Democratic primary, Udall would need to be considerably outspent for Chávez to overcome Udall’s popularity and his own negatives.”

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At 11:22 AM, November 11, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heath, you know have become the blogger for Tom Udall, how will you keep your legitimacy throughout this election?

At 11:51 AM, November 11, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like all of the media has become somewhat of an advocate for Tom Udall. Especially the Santa Fe New Mexican.

With that being said, it's great that Udall is running for senate. I hope he looses and we can have someone who will represent North New Mexico right: For people not environmentalists. Udall is TOO LIBERAL for New Mexico. Maybe he should move to California and find a cause.

At 11:59 AM, November 11, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now it's all put together. What a conspiracy! Udall for Senate, Wiviott for CD1, Henrich for CD2 and McCamley for CD3. Don't say I didn't tell you so. Our state does not belong to us anymore. Oh well, we just live here. Sad

At 10:43 PM, November 11, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no conspiracy here. Udall, Wiviott, Heinrich and McCamley are qualified candidates as are many of the others who are running.

You have the ability to take power into your hands and vote for the person you choose.

At 7:24 AM, November 12, 2007, Blogger Alex Flores said...

I laugh reading these comments. If you want to talk about how you're losing your state, how those liberals are taking over, leave your name and email - have a real debate!

At 10:06 AM, November 12, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its funny that when a white family has a long tradition in politics - it is considered to be honorable. When it is a Hispanic - it is corrupt and patron-like. Whats up with that?

Heinrich, McCamley, and Wiviott should they win will only serve one term... the next election season the traditional voters will wake up and take the Dem Party back and get some ethnic representation.

At 2:56 PM, November 12, 2007, Blogger Alex Flores said...

Nobody called any Latino family corrupt. Show us where.

Second - these comments are acting like the state delegation has been taken over by Whites. If you feel so strongly, stop mourning over your own foregone conclusion, go volunteer, go donate, and go vote for Latinos. The sob act is a farce.

At 12:17 AM, November 13, 2007, Anonymous Emma Brown said...

"...That’s why I started in this. That’s why I remain in it,” Wiviott said. “I’m committed to either raise or spend whatever it takes to win..." Just because you have serious disposable wealth ($400,000 of his own money...so far...for his campaign) does not mean you are the best canidate! What experience does he have on a national level. Northern New Mexicans cannot be bought. We want a canidate who can deliver!


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