Bring Us Wilson
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
Heather Wilson, the five-term veteran of Congress who is seeking the Republican nomination for United States Senate from New Mexico, was last night in New York, where, at a reception in Manhattan, she was endorsed by Governor Christie. She spoke of her astonishing life, starting with her grandparents’ arrival at America. Her grandfather flew for the RAF in World War I, and her father in the Air Force here. The congresswoman herself grew up in a small town in New Hampshire and won an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy. Last night she was greeted with a burst of applause when she recalled arriving at the academy’s Colorado campus and marching into the future under the famous sign that said, “Bring Me Men.”
Governor Christie reckons that the New Mexico senate race, which is likely to be close, is one of the most important in the country. Ms. Wilson is running to fill the seat vacated by a retiring Democrat, Jeff Bingaman, in an election in which control of the upper chamber is in the balance. Ms. Wilson, moreover, is clearly material for leadership within the Senate as a person of conservative principles who can work across the aisle. She has few peers in her generation for the breadth of her experience and learning, both on foreign policy and domestic matters and practical governance in respect of what we call social issues.
The foreign policy savvy began with her years in the Air Force. While at the Academy, she won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, where she earned a Ph.D. with a thesis on wars of liberation. We met her in Brussels, Belgium, in the late 1980s, when we were a foreign correspondent and she was by then a young captain of the Air Force assigned to the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The assignment gave her a ring-side seat during the climactic years of the Cold War. She returned to America to serve with the National Security Council under President George H.W. Bush.
Then she married a lawyer from New Mexico and moved to Albuquerque to start a family and enter politics, where she served in state government as cabinet secretary for youth and families. Her 10 years in Congress — representing a relatively liberal district, New Mexico’s 1st — were years of great distinction, in which she served on the Commerce, Intelligence, and Armed Services Committees. She cut a broadly conservative arc in the House, while occasionally breaking from the Republican leadership to take stands on points of principle. She gave up her House seat to run for Senate in 2008, when she was opposed in the GOP primary by Stephen Pearce.
The Sun endorsed her in the primary, and was criticized for doing so by the Club for Growth, which saw Mr. Pearce as the more free-market contender. Our bet was that Ms. Wilson was more apt than Mr. Pearce to win in the general election. He defeated her in the primary and went on to get trounced come November (he’s back in the House now and doing well). It is something to imagine how things might have gone for America had Ms. Wilson won the primary. She would have been a much stronger contender in the general election and, had she won the general election, and the Democrats wouldn’t have had the power of cloture and we might not have had Obamacare to contend with.
In any event, the importance of 2012 is that Ms. Wilson will again have that chance, and it was reassuring to see the likes of Governor Christie make so clear — as he did last night — that he and the other major figures in the party perceive the point. Ms. Wilson made clear that she will stand for a strong foreign policy and has no illusions about what will be necessary if Iran moves close toward a bomb. She believes Obamacare is both unconstitutional and flawed policy. She draws important distinctions between border security, where a dangerous situation obtains with Mexico, and immigration, where she spoke of the need for more visas for skilled and highly educated immigrants. The central, towering issue she sees in this campaign is jobs and economic growth and she spoke brilliantly last night on this point, illuminating how federal regulations and mandates are strangling the recovery in New Mexico. So in respect of New Mexico, the call of the Sun is “Bring Us Wilson.”