| Sen. Jeff Bingaman's retirement, like Pete Domenici's two cycles ago, has sent New Mexico's small political world abuzz, with observers discussing tons of potential candidates on both sides. I've been collecting links for the past few days, and as best I can tell, here's what the current playing field looks like:
• Andres Valdez (D), "a longtime anti-police-brutality activist from Albuquerque"
• Bill English (R), some nutter who once wrote on his blog that President Obama is "what literally amounts to an African dictator"
• Greg Sowards (R), a teabagger who spent several hundred grand of his own money to take in 17% in the NM-02 Republican primary in 2008
• Hector Balderas (D), the 37-year-old state Auditor who became the youngest Hispanic statewide elected official in the country in 2006; a source tells Dave Catanese that Balderas, who has scored the "rising star" label, is "95% in"
• Janice Arnold-Jones (R), a former state representative, who says she's "among" those who are interested
• Terry Brunner (D), Bingaman's former state director and current USDA official, who says he will make a decision "in the next few weeks"
• Diane Denish (D), the former Lt. Gov. and 2010 gubernatorial candidate, who says she is "fully exploring the contest"
• Martin Heinrich (D), the 1st CD Rep., who says he is "actively considering" the race
• Tom Mullins (R), the 2010 GOP nominee in NM-03, who says he's not ruling out a run
• Heather Wilson (R), the former 1st CD Rep., who says she is "considering running for the Senate, as well as other opportunities"
NOT SAYING "NO":
• Edgar Lopez (D), a wealthy real estate developer who says he is more interested in running for NM-02, depending upong redistricting
• Ben Ray Lujan (D), the 3rd CD Rep., who says that his "focus at this time is on representing the people in my district"
• Steve Pearce (R), the 2nd CD Rep., who told Politico it was "too soon for him to even consider a race" (their words); Pearce also wants to make sure the party picks a "conservative candidate" (i.e., not Heather Wilson), to avoid a replay of the 2008 GOP primary (where he beat Heather Wilson in a nasty fight but got crushed by Tom Udall in the general)
• Gary Johnson (R), the governor before Bill Richardson & current presidential candidate, who is "not at all" interested
• Bill Richardson (D), the former governor, who just joined a public relations firm
• Susana Martinez (R), the current governor, who through a spokesman says she isn't interested
Are there any other names you've heard about?