Speculation is building that former two-term Governor and presidential candidate Gary Johnson will enter the race for U.S. Senate from New Mexico, a couple of early exploratory polls show Johnson turning what was considered a safe Democrat seat into an extremely competitive race.
Moving New Mexico’s Senate seat from the “safe” column for Democrats to something far less certain would have significant implications nationally.
A Libertarian party survey of 500 registered voters statewide utilizing live interviewers and conducted by NSON Opinion Strategy prior to Johnson’s emergence as a potential candidate shows Johnson and the Republican candidate, Mick Rich, in a virtual tie at 24% and 25% respectively, and trailing incumbent Martin Heinrich by only 14 points. In a head to head match up between Rich and incumbent Heinrich, Heinrich wins by 18 points. Rich is at 29% and Heinrich is at 47%.
A poll using auto-dials, conducted by In Lux Research, found additional results. According to this poll in a head to head battle between Johnson and Henrich, Johnson is ahead by 2 points, with Heinrich at 40 and Johnson at 42. This poll of 525 registered voters was conducted July 28-29.
Based on the strong showing by Johnson against Heinrich in a potential head to head battle many in New Mexico are speculating that Mick Rich will soon succumb to mounting pressure from Republican insiders to drop out of the race and support Johnson in an effort to unseat Democrat Henrich.
While these surveys are very preliminary, they suggest Johnson could put New Mexico in play in the pivotal race for control of the U.S. Senate.
Aubrey Dunn the current Land Commissioner for New Mexico withdrew from the race as the Libertarian party nominee on Monday, July 30th.