The state could figure prominently in the 2004 presidential elections as both parties will seek to capture the ever-growing Hispanic vote.
A key race to watch in the 2004 elections is the 1st congressional district House race. Republican Rep. Heather Wilson is a perennial Democratic target in a district that Al Gore carried in 2000. She won a 10-point victory in 2002 against Democrat Richard Romero, who seeks a rematch this year.
In the 2nd Congressional District Gary King, a former legislator and deputy Energy Secretary, will face GOP Rep. Steve Pearce in what the Democrats view as a competitive race in November. King is the son of former three-time Gov. Bruce King, the longest serving governor in state history.
First District incumbent Wilson has served in Congress since winning a June 1998 special election to fill out the unexpired term of Republican Steve Schiff, who died in office. Pearce was elected to the 2nd District in 2002, retaining GOP control of a seat that had been held for 22 years by Joe Skeen before his retirement. Skeen died last year.
Nationally, Democrats view the 1st and 2nd District matches as competitive races that could help them chip away at the GOP majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Democrats outnumber Republicans in those districts, but Republicans have held those seats for more than two decades since New Mexico gained a third congressional district in the early 1980s.
In 2002, Republican Senator Pete Domenici coasted to a sixth term over Democrat Gloria Tristani, a former Clinton appointee to the Federal Communications Commission.
Democrat Bill Richardson, former President Clinton's energy secretary, bested Republican John Sanchez to become the state's governor.