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Editorial: Journal Primary Picks For U.S. Senate, House

Heinrich for Senate — Democrat

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Martin Heinrich says he wants to work across the aisle to solve problems for New Mexicans and to fight for the middle class. Challenging, but not insurmountable goals, says the two-term Albuquerque congressman who has represented Congressional District 1 constituents since 2009.

Critics often label Heinrich a liberal, but an analysis of his votes by the Washington-based National Journal tagged him as the 146th-most liberal member of the U.S. House — in the middle of the Democratic pack.

Having earned his stripes in the rough-and-tumble U.S. House, Heinrich has matured and refined his positions. He believes Congress should extend Bush-era tax cuts for all but upper income levels to help the economy recover and should use a pay-as-you-go system to address the federal budget. If the Supreme Court overturns the health care act, Heinrich says, he will try to get components like regional insurance exchanges and acceptance of pre-existing conditions done piecemeal.

Heinrich was effective, with Republican support, at helping retain some mission for the New Mexico Air National Guard’s 150th Fighter Wing. He says the country needs significant spending cuts as well as tax increases to address the growing debt.

And Heinrich wants to emulate the bipartisan deft hand Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman has used so effectively to leave a positive legacy.

The Journal recommends Martin Heinrich for U.S. Senate in the June 5 Democratic primary.

Wilson for Senate — Republican

With Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s upcoming retirement, New Mexico will have gone from having two senior members of the U.S. Senate to having none in a short time span. Democratic Sen. Tom Udall is midway through his first term after serving two decades in the House.

Heather Wilson brings similar experience into her bid for the Republican nomination to seek Bingaman’s seat in the November election. She previously spent 10 years as a strong representative for New Mexico in the House.

A graduate of the Air Force Academy and former National Security Council staffer, Wilson is aptly suited to reclaim her role as a player on defense and national security — two areas of great importance to a state that plays host to military bases and national laboratories, and shares a border with Mexico.

But Wilson says her biggest concern and top priority will be getting the nation’s financial house in order. She says spending is lavish and government has grown at a record clip under the current administration. She contends a harsh regulatory environment and overly complex tax code make it hard for investors to invest and bankers to lend, so economic growth and job creation remain unnecessarily stymied.

Wilson’s reputation as a thoughtful representative, not a lock-step partisan, has not always helped her politically. But the nation is in need of people who can reach across the aisle and actually work.

The Journal recommends that Republican voters choose Heather Wilson in the June 5 primary.

Lujan Grisham for House — Democrat

Michelle Lujan Grisham has made a career out of serving New Mexicans, first as a young attorney for the State Bar’s Lawyer Referral for the Elderly Program; then as head of the state Agency on Aging and its Cabinet-level successor, Aging and Long Term Services; then as secretary of the Department of Health; and since 2010 as a Bernalillo County commissioner.

But that career has been far from one of an entrenched government bureaucrat. In working to ensure New Mexicans get the access to services they deserve, Lujan Grisham has been accused of being too hands on, a micromanager. She embraces the criticism, saying simply that an assertive approach is what’s required to get things done.

New Mexico’s young delegation needs an official who won’t hesitate to wade into tough issues and seek compromises — whether it’s health care, protecting and creating jobs, or finally passing meaningful immigration reform. Lujan Grisham has clear stances on each that safeguard New Mexicans but pragmatically attack long-term fiscal and security problems.

And New Mexicans need an official dedicated to transparent and accountable government. In her first term on the commission Lujan Grisham has sponsored new ethics standards for county officeholders.

The Journal recommends Democratic voters in New Mexico’s House District 1 select Michelle Lujan Grisham in the June 5 primary.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Janice Arnold Jones, the Republican candidate for House District 1, is unopposed, as are incumbent Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Lujan in District 3, incumbent Republican Rep. Steve Pearce in District 2 and District 2 Democratic challenger Evelyn Madrid Erhard.

The Journal is making no endorsement in the contested House District 3 Republican primary.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.