Today, New Mexico State Auditor Hector Balderas officially announced his candidacy for the US Senate seat Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman will vacate next year.

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Balderas' announcement, via video (watch it below), takes a page from his primary opponent's playbook. Democratic US Rep. Martin Heinrich, who also announced via video, currently leads the race in fundraising, with cash reserves of roughly $350,000. 

According to the Federal Election Commission, Balderas has not yet reported contributions.

Heinrich also leads Republicans Heather Wilson, a former congresswoman with $281,965 in cash on hand, and Greg Sowards, a 2008 congressional candidate who, despite having pretty much the best web domain ever (www.shortbaldhonest.com), trails Wilson with $152,049.

William "Bill" English, a third Republican candidate, has yet to report contributions.

Today Heinrich, not to be overshadowed by Balderas' announcement, issued a press release about his own upcoming "listening tour," in which he plans to visit Santa Fe May 6. And the state Republican party weighed in, too, with the following statement from RPNM Executive Director Bryan Watkins: "As state auditor, one would assume Hector Balderas understands the value of a hard-earned dollar, but nothing could be further from the truth. Balderas supports looting New Mexico's permanent fund. At a time when our state requires a U.S. Senator committed to solving the budget crisis, the last person we need is a politician with a track record of supporting raiding our children's savings account to avoid tough decisions. Balderas is just another politician who wants to spend more on the backs of the New Mexicans he aspires to represent."

The press release cites Balderas' support for Invest in Kids Now, a coalition that advocates using a portion of the permanent fund to invest in early childhood education and health care--in other words, not the worst thing in the world, provided you believe the organization's claim that "Every dollar invested in early childhood education returns at least $10 back to all New Mexicans."

These are, of course, the days of fiscal austerity (or at least of talking about fiscal austerity)--so, at the very least, it'll be an interesting race.