GOP Senators Stump for Wilson

Troika of popular Republicans campaign in New Mexico

Arizona Sens. McCain, Kyl, Ayotte, Graham / AP
September 25, 2012

U.S. Sens. John McCain (R., Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), and Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.) will campaign for New Mexico Republican Senate candidate Heather Wilson in Albuquerque Tuesday in an effort to highlight her foreign policy bona fides and her opponent’s radical environmentalist agenda.

"Heather Wilson is the only candidate New Mexicans can trust to put a stop to the reckless spending and turn this economy around," McCain said in a statement. "The nation is watching,"

McCain’s position as Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee will help Wilson highlight her foreign policy credentials and credibility on matters related to defense, an important industry in the state.

"I think Obama’s foreign policy is in free fall, and Wilson has vastly more experience and more qualifications to deal with these issues than Heinrich, who is basically an Albuquerque city councilor guy," said New Mexico Republican state Sen. Rod Adair.

Wilson served three terms on the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and two terms on the House Armed Services Committee.

Adair highlighted Wilson’s congressional experience dealing with the U.S. relationship with Eastern European countries, emerging democracies, and Israel’s security next to a "pan-Islamic world that is in complete disarray."

"They need to get the message out on the extreme qualification gap between Wilson and Heinrich on foreign policy matters," Adair said.

Tuesday’s media event must establish Wilson as the candidate who will be taken more seriously in the Senate, Adair said.

"New Mexico depends so much on the federal government and with all due respect to [second-term Democratic New Mexico congressman] Ben Ray Lujan and Heinrich, they’re very tiny midget-like figures in Washington compared to [retired U.S. Senator] Pete Domenici," Adair said, referring to the Republican who represented New Mexico in the U.S. Senate for 36 years until 2009.

"They don’t have the gravitas Domenici had when it comes to dealing with the White House, dealing with the Department of Defense," Adair said. "The Obama administration seems to be completely unaware of who Lujan or Heinrich even are! These people have no clout whatsoever."

The campaign also hopes the McCain-Graham-Ayotte appearance will help Wilson in her struggle to get the media to cover Rep. Martin Heinrich’s unpopular liberal economic positions and relative lack of foreign policy experience.

"Energy fuels our state economy," said New Mexico House minority floor leader, Thomas C. Taylor. "Environmental regulation with scientific basis is important but over-the-top regulations are dangerous. To my knowledge (Heinrich) hasn’t seen a regulation he didn’t like."

"Cap-and-trade is a crazy idea," Taylor added. "It doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s just another way to raise the cost of electricity."

"I object to the term ‘environmentalist’" being used to describe Heinrich, said Adair. "I’m an environmentalist. He’s a junk science lobbyist."

Heinrich has received strong financial support from national environmentalist groups and the Santa Fe conservationist community. He previously compared the Waxman-Markey climate change bill, which would have instituted a job-killing cap-and-trade energy policy, to the Apollo space program.

Wilson, meanwhile, staked out moderate positions during her terms in the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, during which time she served on subcommittees pertaining to health and air quality.

"[McCain, Graham, and Ayotte are] coming down to New Mexico because this race could really determine the path that this country will take," Wilson campaign spokesman Chris Sanchez told the Free Beacon.

An internal Wilson poll released last week showed the moderate Republican trailing Heinrich by five points, less than the nine-point deficit displayed by the most recent Democratic Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey commissioned by environmentalist groups linked to Heinrich.

Sanchez said Wilson is now within "striking distance," and pointed out that Wilson has come from behind in every congressional election she has ever won in the predominately Democratic state.

"There’s a lot that happens in the last few days of a campaign," Taylor told the Free Beacon. "A five-point lead is not insignificant but it can evaporate pretty quick. The undecideds at this point will still be the difference."

"That’s one of the things that’s interesting about Heather," Taylor said. "She’s run a more tough campaign than anybody I’ve ever seen in my life."

"I think she’s going to do very well on the east side and certainly the polls show she’s doing very well in the northwest and she’s tied in the southwest," Adair told the Free Beacon. "The decisive part of the state will be Albuquerque and the suburban communities around it. It’s an area that both of them have represented in the Congress. Right now, (Heinrich) appears to have an advantage, but that could change."

The Heinrich campaign did not return a request for comment.