Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) has decided that five terms in the US Senate is enough, and will step down rather than run for re-election in the 2012 cycle. The good news for broadcasters in New Mexico is that Republicans already see the state as a pick-up opportunity, and the potential for contested primaries is on the upswing.
Both parties have several strong candidates to choose from, some currently serving in the US House of Representatives, another on the Republican side who served there not too long ago – and one on the Democratic side that has held state office as high as lieutenant governor.
Bingaman becomes the sixth senator from the Class of 2013 to bypass an opportunity to serve until 2019.
The others include two Democrats, two Republicans and one independent. They are:
Kent Conrad (D-ND)
Jim Webb (D-VA)
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)
John Kyl (R-TX)
Joe Lieberman (I-CT)
In politically realistic terms, the Democrats are losing four incumbents to the Republicans’ two, since Lieberman caucuses with the current majority party.
RBR-TVBR observation: Observers figured Bingaman would have had no trouble whatsoever hanging on to this seat had he chosen to run one more time. It’s always good news for the party on the outs when a battle against an impregnable incumbent becomes a contest for an open seat – and it is a strong recipe for major expenditures in the political advertising category.