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Councilor Eyes Run at Wilson

By Trip Jennings
Journal Capitol Bureau
    SANTA FE— Albuquerque City Councilor Martin Heinrich is moving close to the starting line in a possible race for the 1st Congressional District seat held by Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M.
    The governor's office announced Monday that Heinrich has taken an unpaid leave of absence from his $75,000 state job as New Mexico's Natural Resource Trustee to weigh a 2008 run for the Albuquerque-based district.
    "I'm not 100 percent, but I am getting closer to it with every day," Heinrich said Monday.
    The first-term city councilor hopes to make a final decision within two to three weeks, he said, and part of the deliberation is whether to abandon a re-election run for city councilor for a shot at a seat in Congress.
    His District 6 City Council seat is up this year.
    Heinrich is among several Democrats being mentioned as possible challengers to Wilson, who is viewed in some corners as vulnerable after her narrow re-election last year over former Democratic state Attorney General Patricia Madrid.
    Gov. Bill Richardson, in a prepared statement, wished Heinrich well "as he explores new opportunities to serve the people of New Mexico."
    Amanda Cooper, deputy manager for Richardson's presidential campaign, said later, "The governor is pleased to see Martin in the race. He will make a strong candidate and a fine congressman."
    Heinrich, 35, said Richardson was "very supportive and encouraging."
    Heinrich also said he has met with people who would work on his campaign should he decide to run. "I've been working with an attorney to make sure if I announce that we comply with all the (Federal Election Commission) regs," Heinrich said.
    The national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee already has run two radio ads targeting Wilson and a recruiter from the national group has spoken with several potential Democratic challengers.
    Wilson's office wasted no time, however, letting potential challengers know that the congresswoman had raised $274,415 for her re-election effort in the first quarter of 2007.
    Wilson's office declined comment Monday.
    Heinrich's leave of absence began immediately, the governor's office said Monday. Former Albuquerque mayor and Democratic state land commissioner candidate Jim Baca will fill in as interim state natural resources trustee while Heinrich is on leave, the governor's office said.


E-MAIL writer Trip Jennings