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Sole GOP candidate for governor has big cash advantage

SANTA FE – Republican Steve Pearce appears poised to enter the general election cycle with a hefty cash advantage in New Mexico’s open gubernatorial race, as the three Democrats have continued to spend big money on TV campaign ads and mailers in the run up to next week’s primary election.

Pearce, who is the lone GOP candidate running for governor, has received hefty donations from oil industry executives and reported Thursday having more than $1.9 million in his campaign war chest.

That’s nearly twice as much as his closest potential November opponent, as the three Democrats seeking the party’s nomination – Michelle Lujan Grisham, Joseph Cervantes and Jeff Apodaca – each reported spending big on campaign ads during a roughly three-week period that ended earlier this week.

Combined, the three Democrats spent more than $1.5 million during the reporting period, according to the reports they filed with the Secretary of State’s Office.

Lujan Grisham, who is giving up her Albuquerque-area congressional seat to run for governor, reported having nearly $1.1 million in her campaign account. She spent $719,441 during the reporting period, with more than half of that amount – at least $458,000 – having been spent on TV ads and campaign mailers.

She has now spent more than $3.2 million since entering the governor’s race in December 2016.

Meanwhile, Lujan Grisham also reported raising roughly $216,000 during the same period – including a $2,500 contribution from Jackson Wink MMA studio in Albuquerque.

Cervantes, a state senator from Las Cruces, reported spending $572,938 during the reporting period and also has nearly $1.1 million in his campaign war chest. He has largely self-financed his campaign, giving more than $2 million in personal loans.

Apodaca, a former media executive from Albuquerque, has trailed behind his two Democratic rivals in fundraising. He reported spending $256,730 during the reporting period and had about $82,000 in his campaign account as of earlier this week.

Apodaca also reported loaning $12,500 to his campaign, bringing the total amount of personal loans for the primary election cycle up to $462,500.

The governor’s race does not include an incumbent for the first time since 2010 because two-term Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is barred from seeking a third consecutive term in office. She will step down at the end of this year.

The open race has attracted high-profile candidates as Pearce is also forgoing a re-election bid to his southern New Mexico-based congressional seat to run for governor.

The campaign reports filed Thursday with the Secretary of State’s Office are the final reports candidates were required to submit before the June 5 primary election.

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