Tags: Wilson | Heinrich | Senate | coal

Coal's Future Takes Center Stage in New Mexico Senate Race

Sunday, 28 Oct 2012 05:56 PM

By Andra Varin

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The future of the nation's coal industry has taken center stage in the race for the open Senate seat in New Mexico where Democrat Martin Heinrich is favored over former GOP congresswoman Heather Wilson.

Wilson is a firm believer in the future of coal, while her opponent is a proponent of alternative energy and natural gas.

Martin Heinrich (AP Photo)
The Sierra Club has spent $2 million in trying to defeat Wilson, while she has had support from oil, gas and mining companies.

“Coal is not a fuel of the past; it’s a fuel of today and tomorrow,” Wilson told the Albuquerque Journal. “It’s inexpensive, reliable, and we’ve got a 300-year supply of it here in the U.S.”

And she says the idea of climate change is far from proven. “To make huge decisions that would have tremendous consequences for jobs, the economy and our culture and future based on science that is pretty limited seems to me to be putting the cart before the horse,.

“We have a lot of science left to do on what is the cause of this warming in the last 70 years."

But Heinrich countered, "We should be investing in a cleaner energy future.”

New Mexico produces only some 2 percent of the country's coal, but is the sixth largest producer of natural gas, and that is the way of the future claims the Democrat, who claims that clean coal is nothing more than a "marketing campaign."
Heather Wilson (AP Photo)

The two candidates have both represented the Albuquerque-based 1st District in the House of Representatives. Heinrich, 41, a former Albuquerque Cith Council president, has held the seat for the past four years.

Wilson, 51, is a former Air Force captain who served in Gov. Gary Johnson's cabinet as Secretary for Childen, Youth and Families. She won a special election to the House in 1998 following the death of Republican Rep. Steven Schiff, but resigned in 2008 after six terms in a bid to take the Senate seat being vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Pete Domenici. However she lost in the primary and the seat was won by Democrat Tom Udell.

Wilson has a slight advantage in the money war. She has raised $6.2 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, compared to $5.8 million for Heinrich.

Polls have shown Heinrich leading by as much as 12 percentage points, however Wilson knows they can be wrong. In 2006 she was down by 9 points just two weeks before the election but scraped home against Democrat Patricia Madrid by 875 votes.

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