ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — The gloves are already off in what is likely to be the toughest and possibly the dirtiest election campaign in New Mexico in November.
Just minutes after declaring victory in Tuesday's primary, Rep. Martin Heinrich and former Rep. Heather Wilson started going after each other.
Democrat Heinrich and Republican Wilson will be battling it out for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman.
The open seat brings with it the chance of getting a Republican in the Senate, something the state hasn't had since 2009 when Sen. Pete Domenici retired.
Both Heinrich and Wilson said the other's record will provide plenty of campaign fodder.
Heinrich's opening shots focused on the social safety net and expensive wars.
"I think she has a record that I am looking forward to running in opposition to," Heinrich said. "We have been fighting for Social Security and Medicare; she was fighting for breaks for millionaires and billionaires.
"She got us into two wars with no idea how to pay for them, no idea how to get our troops home again. We've been fighting to get our troops home to their families in New Mexico."
Wilson opened by making the issue the economy.
"On almost every issue that's important to New Mexicans, particularly when it comes to how we create jobs and how we get the economy growing, martin Heinrich has been on the wrong side of those issues," Wilson said.
Independent political action committees are also targeting this race. The PACs, now open to unlimited and secretive funding, are already purchasing air time promoting each candidate and bashing the other.
In the Republican primary, Wilson knocked off Las Cruces business owner Greg Sowards by 64,567 votes to 27,808, according to still-unofficial returns. Heinrich outpolled State Auditor Hector Balderas 83,608-57,899.
Wilson served in Congress representing New Mexico's First Congressional District from 1998 until 2009 when she lost a primary bid to replace Domenici. Heinrich is completing his second term as the First District representative and is a past Albuquerque city councilor.
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.