Former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) and New Mexico Lieutenant Gov. John Sanchez (R) are the front-runners to be their party's Senate nominee. But a third candidate, businessman Greg Sowards (R), may raise enough money to put his name in the conversation.
Sowards raised $230,000 in the last three months and has $334,000 cash on hand, a promising early sum for an unknown candidate. If he continues to fundraise at that pace, he could have enough money be a factor in the race. Much of that was self-funding: He has given his campaign more than $200,000 so far, and promises to spend enough of his own funds to remain competitive in the state. Neither Wilson nor Sanchez has announced how much they've raised.
A late-June poll conducted by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling firm had Wilson holding a wide lead in the primary, with 52 percent of likely Republican primary voters supporting her, 24 percent supporting Sanchez, 8 percent supporting Sowards and 4 percent supporting fringe candidate Bill English.
Wilson is the preferred candidate of many establishment Republicans. She is well-known after her 2008 Senate primary run, which she lost to Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), who went on to lose to Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.). She also represented Albuquerque, the state's largest city, in Congress. But some conservatives believe she is too centrist. Erik Erickson, founder of the popular conservative blog RedState, tweeted when she announced that "Keeping Heather Wilson out of the Senate will be the next great noble cause for conservatives."
Doing so will be harder without a consensus conservative candidate. Sanchez's hopes to catch Wilson would be complicated if Sowards can keep himself in the high single digits in polls or improve upon that.