Ex-prof top fundraiser in congressional race

SANTA FE – Antoinette Sedillo Lopez – a retired law professor making her first run for office since she was a teenager – is off to a strong fundraising start as she campaigns for the U.S. House.

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez

The Democrat raised about $201,000 in donations over a recent three-month period, more than any other candidate in the 1st Congressional District, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Her closest competitor was former Democratic Party Chairwoman Debra Haaland, who reported $152,000 in contributions.

Sedillo Lopez and Haaland are among seven candidates in the Democratic race so far, all competing to succeed Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is running for governor next year rather than seek re-election.

Here’s a look at the fundraising totals so far:

• Sedillo Lopez, a former associate dean at the University of New Mexico law school, raised $201,000. Many of her donations came from lawyers across New Mexico and from law professors throughout the country.

• Haaland, who’s hoping to become the first Native American woman in Congress, raised $152,000. Many of her top contributors are Indian tribes, including the pueblos of Pojoaque and Kewa in New Mexico.

• Damian Lara, an attorney and president of the New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association, raised about $87,000.

• Pat Davis, an Albuquerque city councilor and executive director of the advocacy group ProgressNow New Mexico, raised about $68,000.

• Dennis Dinge, a physicist, raised about $12,000.

• Edgewood Town Councilor John Abrams raised $320.

• Damon Martinez, former U.S. attorney for New Mexico, announced his campaign this month, after the period covered in the last FEC report.

The Republican candidates – Janice Arnold-Jones and Michael Hendricks – didn’t report any fundraising during the quarter, which covered April, May and June, according to the FEC.

Sedillo Lopez, who recently stepped down as executive director at Enlace Comunitario, a nonprofit group that helps victims of domestic violence, said the donations reflect her deep roots in the community.

“I think that this shows that I can win this race, and I can represent this district really effectively,” Sedillo Lopez said in an interview.

It’s her first run for office, she said, since she campaigned for Valencia County treasurer as a 19-year-old.

Fundraising, of course, is an important skill in House races. Congressional candidates and incumbents face almost unrelenting pressure to raise money because of the short, two-year election cycles.

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