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John Sanchez drops out of New Mexico Senate race

at 02:55 PM ET, 02/09/2012

New Mexico Lt. Gov. John Sanchez (R) has dropped his Senate bid — welcome news to former Rep. Heather Wilson, his chief primary opponent.

Sanchez was competing for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D).
John A. Sanchez and his wife Debra Sanchez walk towards the gazebo in the Plaza in Santa Fe, N.M., where he would be sworn in as lieutenant governor on Jan. 1, 2011. (Roberto E. Rosales - AP)

“Throughout the course of this campaign, it has become clear to me, that in order to ensure that a Republican is elected to represent New Mexico in the U.S. Senate, the G.O.P must stand united,” Sanchez said in a statement on Thursday. “The reality is that the path forward to success in the campaign could cause a negative primary struggle that would leave the eventual nominee bruised, bloody and broke.”

While he struggled against her in fundraising and polls, Sanchez was running to the right of Wilson and could have made her path to victory more difficult had he stayed in the race. He had the endorsement of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)

Wilson lost a 2010 Senate primary to Rep. Steve Pearce, who also attacked her as insufficiently conservative.

Wilson responded to Sanchez’s decision with her own statement, calling him a “fine public servant who has always put the needs of New Mexico first.”

Businessman Greg Sowards is still in the GOP primary but has gotten little traction. Rep. Martin Heinrich (D) is the likely Democratic nominee, although he faces a primary from state Auditor Hector Balderas.

 
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