Wilson beats Romero in New Mexico
1st Congressional District race was hard-fought
(CNN) -- Republican incumbent Rep. Heather Wilson beat back a strong challenge from Democrat state Sen. Richard Romero in New Mexico's 1st Congressional District.
A dead heat going into Election Day, Wilson won 55 percent of the vote to Romero's 45 percent, with 99 percent of precincts reporting.
The race was so close that an early October poll taken for the Albuquerque Journal showed the race a statistical dead heat with Wilson holding a precarious 45 percent to 44 percent lead over Romero.
Wilson, who was first elected to her current seat in a special election in 1998, won re-election in 2002 with a healthy 55 percent, her largest victory. This time around, however, the fear that she had yet to establish deep roots in the district seemed to cost her support in the polls.
New Mexico has become such a competitive presidential target that the ability of presidential campaigns and outside groups to get their voters to the polls may have been a key to victory in this race. In Presidential races, the state has swung from highly Republican (Ronald Reagan won the state handily in 1980 and 1984) to more Democratic (Bill Clinton won the state in 1992 and 1996).
In the 2000 election Republican nominee George W. Bush and Democratic nominee Al Gore each took 48 percent, with Gore winning the state by less than 400 votes.
Romero and Democrats hoped that tying Wilson to Bush would give them an advantage in a district that Gore narrowly won in 2000. With a 42 percent Latino population in the district, Democrats were counting on a strong Latino turnout.
But going into the final days of the campaign, some wondered if even a strong Latino turnout would be enough to give Romero the margin to win. An August Albuquerque Journal poll showed Romero with less than 50 percent of the Hispanic vote.
Romero's TV ads highlighted everything from his working class background and former job as a teacher and principal to attacks on Wilson's 94-percent voting record with the GOP leadership.
In her campaign, Wilson highlighted her political independence and track record of delivering for the district's constituents. Republicans were especially angered by a Romero ad attacking Wilson for her votes against certain air safety measures that featured a picture of Osama bin Laden. She fought back at Romero running ads that attacked him for everything from opposing zero tolerance for student-on-teacher violence in schools to missing votes on taxing people in nursing homes. She also ran attacks ads in Spanish.