Former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) will make another run for Senate next year, officially jumping into the race for the seat of retiring Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M).
Wilson will make it official next week, according to a Republican source with knowledge of her plans. Her entrance into the race was first reported by Politico.
Wilson's decision to jump in gives the GOP another solid candidate in an open-seat race next year as the party tries to regain the Senate majority. Republicans need a net gain of at least three seats to win back control of the Senate in 2012.
Wilson, who lost a Senate primary to Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) in 2008, could face him again next year. Pearce hasn't ruled out another run for the seat, but early polling shows he could face an uphill climb against Wilson in a primary.
National Democrats have expressed confidence that the seat will remain in the Democratic column, but Bingaman's retirement means the party can't take the seat for granted. Numbers from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) released last month showed Bingaman nearly a lock for reelection had he decided to run for another term.
Topping the early list of Democratic prospects is Rep. Martin Heinrich, who would start out with a sizable lead in a general-election match with Wilson, according to PPP — 50 percent to 39.
The only Republican prospect who held a lead over Heinrich in the poll was former Gov. Gary Johnson, but he's mulling a bid for the GOP nomination for president and recently told The Ballot Box he has no interest in serving in the Senate.
It's also doubtful Johnson would ever make it through a Republican primary.
Even if Pearce decides not to wage another bid, Wilson will likely face a contested primary with Lt. Gov. John Sanchez (R), another potential candidate.