The Sierra Club today officially endorsed Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-Albuquerque) to succeed Jeff Bingaman in the US Senate.


Heinrich, a two-term congressman, also has support from organized labor and lead his primary challenger, State Auditor Hector Balderas, in a June poll by a 47-24 margin. But Balderas, who entered the race after Heinrich, is edging him in fundraising. From April through June, Heinrich raised $485,244. Balderas managed to raise $407,634 in a slightly shorter period. He also received a key endorsement last month from former Lt. Gov. Diane Denish.

Heinrich's ties to the Sierra Club run deep; he used to volunteer for the environmental nonprofit in Albuquerque.

"He won't back down to the big polluters," Eva Thaddeus, a local Sierra Club member, said in a phone conference.

Heinrich was jovial about the endorsement.

"At a time when we're seeing the worst environmental attacks since the [Newt] Gingrich revolution of 1994, it makes me feel good that the Sierra Club has got my back when I'm fighting for stronger environmental policies," he said in the phone conference.

Heinrich tells SFR that he'd like to serve in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee currently chaired by Bingaman. He supports a federal clean energy standard, mentioning 20 percent renewable energy by 2020 or 2025 as possibilities.

Heinrich doesn't classify nuclear energy as renewable, although he says existing nuclear operations should be maintained.

"Coal-fired generation is my biggest concern," Heinrich says. "[It's] what I'd like to see replaced with renewable energy the most."

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