Albuquerque, NM – Former Republican Congresswoman Heather Wilson announced Monday, March 7, 2011, she's running for New Mexico's open Senate seat.
In a short speech at a local paper company Monday, Wilson leveled strong criticism at President Obama, particularly about the nation's new healthcare reform law which will require most people to purchase health insurance plans that met the requirements of the new law. Wilson says this would give the government excessive control over the lives of citizens. "If the govt can require us to purchase govt approved products there is no limit to govt control of our lives," the Congresswoman said.
Wilson, who served as a National Security Council member and former Air Force officer, also criticized President Obama's approach to fighting terrorism. "I don't want to prosecute terrorists for their crimes, I want to prevent them from killing our people," Wilson said.
Wilson expressed her support for defining marriage as between one man and one woman, in what could be seen as a nod to tea party conservatives.
Generally considered a moderate Republican, Wilson is the first major contender to enter the race for Democrat Jeff Bingaman's Senate seat. He decided earlier this year not to run for re-election in 2012.
The New Mexico senate race will be an expensive one and Lonna Atkeson, Political Science Professor at the University of New Mexico says Wilson has great name recognition.
"A lot of people know about Heather Wilson and they have a clear opinion of her, she has both negatives and positives that people see in her," says Atkeson. "On the good side, she knows how to run competitive races, she knows how to raise money and I think those are valuable, those are positives for her going into a race."
Democrats are already drawing attention to what they believe are negatives voters will remember about Heather Wilson.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released an internet ad prior to Wilson's announcement this afternoon, criticizing her for her ties to President George W. Bush.
And state Democrats in a press release slammed Wilson for her involvement in the scandal surrounding the firing of US Attorney David Iglesias.
No major Democratic contenders have announced their candidacies but Representative Martin Heinrich has said he is actively considering a run.