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Different takes on fundraising blackout

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Gov. Susana Martinez appealed to donors in a recent fundraising email to “help me catch up” on campaign fundraising after a legislative session blackout that she said her Democratic opponents didn’t face.

That’s not exactly the case for two of the five Democrats running for governor who now serve in the state Senate.

Sens. Howie Morales and Linda Lopez were barred from soliciting gubernatorial campaign contributions between Jan. 1 and Feb. 20, when the session ended. Martinez’s fundraising blackout lasted 20 days longer, through the post-session bill-signing period that ended Wednesday.

But Martinez’s letter to supporters sent Thursday didn’t note the difference.

“From January 1st until just now, I have been unable to solicit contributions for my re-election campaign, because of a state law known as the ‘session blackout,’ ” the Martinez email said. “Those same restrictions did not apply to my Democratic opponents. And for the past three months, they have been furiously raising money from left-wing special interest groups.”

Morales, the state senator from Silver City, called the governor’s fundraising pitch “patently false on many levels.”

“I know I abided by the spirit of the law,” Morales said. “Not only did we not raise any money during that time, but we didn’t raise any money in a PAC, either.”

Martinez campaign spokesman Danny Diaz said questions of the email’s wording are splitting hairs.

“It is simply a point in fact that the same restrictions that apply to the governor do not apply to the other gubernatorial candidates,” Diaz said. “I think the email effectively and accurately communicated that.”

Disagreement in the ranks: While the state Democratic Party and the five Democrats running for governor attempt to make criticism of Gov. Susana Martinez a focus of the 2014 election, one Democratic senator this week offered effusive praise of the Republican governor.

Sen. Pete Campos, in a bill-signing ceremony Tuesday in his hometown, Las Vegas, praised Martinez for her bipartisan approach to working with the Democratic-led Legislature during her first term. Martinez was present for the acclaim.

“Our governor over the last four years has continued to work diligently to ensure that we are going to have a bright future,” Campos said. “… She has continued to look out after our children, she continues to look out after our senior citizens, she continues to look out after our small-business people, and she does that tenaciously.”

Other Democrats have charged that Martinez has fallen short in those areas.

Democratic Party Chairman Sam Bregman said Campos’ remarks were out of line with the party’s mainstream. “This is a governor who’s been a disaster when it comes to jobs, when it comes to education,” Bregman said. “His comments about the governor come as a total surprise to me. I don’t know what generated those comments, but I can tell you this: He’s wrong.”

Oops, wrong district: A candidate who filed to challenge Democratic House Speaker Ken Martinez in the June 3 primary election is pulling out of the race because she says she thought she would be running against someone else.

Nicole Shult, a Democrat from Bluewater, said Friday that she thought her bid was challenging Rep. Eliseo Alcon, D-Milan, in neighboring District 6. But when Shult filed her elections paperwork on Tuesday, she learned she lives in the district held by the most powerful member of the House.

“I would love to serve my community someday; however, at this time I want to continue to support our state representative for District 69, Ken Martinez,” Shult said in a statement.

James Monteleone can be reached at jmonteleone@abqjournal.com.

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