Candidate fundraising reports show competitive primary races ahead
Recently released campaign finance reports show several close primaries shaping up across New Mexico later this summer, and a battle is already playing out between Democrats campaigning as either moderate or progressive, and vying for certain seats.
The primary election for the state takes place Tuesday, June 7, and the general election is on Nov. 8. All 70 state House seats are up for grabs.
A review of Secretary of State records shows candidates are competing in primaries in at least 29 of the state’s 70 House seats, though some of them haven’t raised much — or any — money. Candidates were required April 11 to show how much money they’d received or spent over the last six months.
Democrats hold 45 seats in the House, and Republicans have 24, with one independent. The Secretary of State’s database shows Democrats have 17 primary races ahead of them, and Republicans have 12. Also, at least 16 incumbents are facing primary challengers.
The filings show some incumbents with major fundraising advantages. Rep. Kristina Ortez (D- Taos), for example, raised about 22 times as much cash as her opponent, Florence Miera.
But several primaries are competitive, at least in terms of fundraising, and the races are heating up. One political action committee, Working Together New Mexico, led by conservative Albuquerque City Councilor Louie Sanchez has endorsed several of Democratic candidates in their primary races.
The endorsement drew a rebuke from one such candidate, Cherise Quezada, who told a local politics blog that she rejected the endorsement because of recent anti-union remarks Sanchez made at a Council meeting. She also bristled at being lumped in with other “moderate Democrats” the PAC intended to endorse.
“I am a proud pro-choice, union-supporting Democrat,” Quezada told New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan.
The Working Together New Mexico PAC, which says it is angling to elect “commonsense” Democrats in the June primary, also endorsed incumbent Rep. Doreen Wonda Johnson of Crownpoint, Socorro Mayor Ravi Bhasker in his bid for House District 38, former Rep. Rudy Martinez for District 39, former Rep. Joseph Sanchez for House District 40 and Henry Roybal for House District 46.
In addition to the endorsements, prominent Rep. Patti Lundsrom (D-Gallup), also drew some criticism by cutting $1,000 checks to seemingly moderate primary opponents of some of her colleagues in the Legislature.
Below are three races where primary candidates have raised similar amounts.
Rep. Art De La Cruz (D- Albuquerque) was a longtime Bernalillo County commissioner from the South Valley. He is fighting to keep the District 12 seat he was appointed to during the middle of this year’s legislative session after the resignation of Rep. Brittney Barreras, who stepped down citing mental health concerns. So far, De La Cruz has raised about $22,200. But he has two primary opponents: Nicole Michelle Olonovich with about $7,000 and Melissa D. Armijo with about $13,200.
Former state Rep. Eleanor Chavez and Quezada are fighting to take the seat of Rep. Georgene Louis. Louis, a Democrat, resigned from her Westside Albuquerque seat during the session after she was arrested and charged with intoxicated driving. Chavez and Quezada are very close in fundraising, with Chavez raising about $22,300 and Quezada with $21,800.
The Republican primary with the most competitive fundraising appears to be in Otero County, where incumbent Rachel A. Black and John Block are competing for District 51. Black has so far raised about $29,000 and Block has raised about $21,000, according to the Secretary of State. Block runs the Piñon Post, a conservative news website.
See a breakdown below of fundraising among Republican and Democrat primary candidates.