Posted at: 10/24/2012 5:57 PM
Updated at: 10/24/2012 6:49 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News
There's nothing like some out-of-state help to spice up a long-simmering political campaign, and both Martin Heinrich and Heather Wilson got some of that in their race for U.S. Senate Wednesday.
Early Wednesday afternoon, Texas Congressman Charles Gonzalez joined Heinrich along with fellow Democratic New Mexico Congressman, Ben Ray Lujan, for some campaigning on Albuquerque's Old Town Plaza. Gonzalez is a heavy hitter in the House, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
"You need to have an open mind to be a good legislator," Gonzalez said. "It means that you have to negotiate and reach consensus, and I believe that's what Martin brings. I've seen it demonstrated because he's been with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on every major issue."
Heinrich emphasized the get-out-the-vote ground game, critical to his chances even though he has led Republican Wilson in every poll since the race began months ago.
"All the ads have been running for months and months," Heinrich said. " What matters now is people talking to their friends, people talking to their families, to their neighbors, and making sure that people actually vote."
90 minutes later and a couple of blocks away, Florida Senator Marco Rubio rallied with Republicans in Tiguex Park. Rubio is considered a rising star in the national Republican party after his stirring speech at the GOP convention this summer. He made a strong pitch for Wilson, who served ten years in Congress, representing the same district that Heinrich represents now.
"She's a believer in the free enterprise system," Rubio told a substantial and exuberant crowd. "Now you may say to yourself, well, isn't everybody? No, they're not! There is a shortage of people in Washington DC that understand the free enterprise system and understand that jobs are created when people go out and start a new business, when they risk the money that they've made."
Wilson, a veteran campaigner, told the crowd that voters have a clear choice.
"We can choose a new path of prosperity and opportunity and free enterprise and the kind of American dream that all of us were raised to believe in."
The starring roles of Gonzalez and Rubio - and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, joining Rubio on the Wilson stage - highlight the dominant role of Hispanic voters in New Mexico. Neither party can afford to ignore it, or take it for granted.