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Breaking Bad

New developments in the New Mexico Senate race.

6:05 PM, Feb 29, 2012 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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Wilson says the contest will provide voters with a stark contrast – on questions about the size and scope of government and on national security. “We have two very different visions about what we need to do to get our country back on track,” she says. “What is the role of government in American life? There is no question that runaway federal spending is threatening our free market economy and our way of life.”

Wilson, who has a doctorate in international relations from Oxford University and worked on the National Security Council staff of George H.W. Bush, says she’s deeply concerned about cuts to the defense budget and, in particular, proposed cuts to our nuclear stockpile in the Obama administration’s latest budget. “They’re not thinking about strategy at all,” she says. “Nuclear weapons have helped keep the peace for sixty years. Thirty-two countries rely on our capabilities and this changes that. The President has apparently gone back on his commitment to modernize our nuclear stockpile. If you’re going to low numbers, you really have to make sure the ones you have actually work.”

Many political handicappers had initially categorized the New Mexico race as one that favors Democrats. And polling from as recently as December gives Democrats an advantage. A PPP poll taken that month showed Heinrich with a 47-40 lead over Wilson. But an increasing number of race-watchers believe the contest is winnable for the GOP. A Rasmussen poll taken in mid-February found that the race is effectively a dead heat – with Heinrich leading Wilson 45-43, well within the poll’s margin of error. The presidential race will also be a factor, with Obama viewed more favorably than not in recent polling.

Still, the New Mexico race looks like a competitive one, something that might give Republicans some solace with the odds of a Senate takeover seeming to diminish by the day.

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