Democratic Rep. Martin Heinrich's entry into the New Mexico Senate race Saturday has touched off a scramble for his 1st district House seat.
Albuquerque Councilor Dan Lewis became the first Republican to officially enter the race on Sunday. The local lawmaker talked up his experience during a rollout event at Hotel Albuquerque in the city's Old Town.
"People want elected officials who will not forget who hired them; officials who understand that public service is a privilege and not a perk, that it's about giving, not gouging, helping not hurting, serving and not stealing."
Lewis isn't expected to get a free ride to the GOP nomination. Former state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones (R) has formed an exploratory committee, but not yet declared she'll run. If the does, Arnold-Jones will likely have an edge in terms of name identification because she ran for governor in 2010.
On the Democratic side, state Sen. Eric Griego has announced he's forming an exploratory committee, but he may not end up as the Democratic nominee. One New Mexico observer noted to The Ballot Box that Griego announced his exploratory committee on Friday, the day before Heinrich announced his Senate run. That timing, the observer said, was "sloppy."
The 1st is a swing district and is expected to be a competitive race. Former Rep. Heather Wilson (R), who is again running for Senate, held the seat until 2008 when she left it to mount her first bid for the upper chamber. Heinrich subsequently won the race for the open seat.