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Politics Notebook: Republicans try to block ‘false’ Lujan Grisham TV ad

SANTA FE – The chairman of the state Republican Party is urging television stations to stop airing an advertisement in which gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham touts a reduction in drug overdoses during her tenure as New Mexico’s health secretary.

Ryan Cangiolosi, chairman of the state Republican Party, said the ad contains “demonstrably false and misleading content.”

He cited an article by The Associated Press examining the advertisement’s claims. Annual drug overdose deaths in New Mexico increased steadily from 304 in 2004 to 439 in 2007, according to the state Health Department, as noted in the article. Those were the years Lujan Grisham served as health secretary.

“Michelle Lujan Grisham is not being honest with New Mexico voters about her record,” Cangiolosi said in a letter to local station managers.

In the ad, Lujan Grisham, a member of Congress and the Democratic candidate for governor this year, tells viewers that when she was health secretary, “We lowered overdoses through better treatment.”

To support the ad, her campaign cited news coverage of a drop in the rate of unintentional illicit drug overdoes between 2005 and 2006.

Victor Reyes, a spokesman for Lujan Grisham, said the candidate has “put forward a plan that will aggressively address both illicit and prescription drug addiction” and that she showed strong leadership on the issue as health secretary.

It isn’t clear how TV stations will respond to the GOP letter.

William S. Anderson, vice president and general manager of KRQE News 13 and Fox New Mexico, said the letter wasn’t specific about what spot they proposed to challenge.

But if “it turns out to be a legitimate candidate ad with proper paid-for-by-the-candidate identification they are challenging, I am legally required to run it unedited,” Anderson told the Journal.

CASH LEAD: The Democratic candidates for New Mexico’s two open seats in Congress hold a cash advantage over their opponents.

Deb Haaland, the Democrat running in the Albuquerque-based 1st Congressional District, reported $241,000 in cash on hand, about five times as much as her closest competitor, in a report filed this week.

Republican Janice Arnold-Jones had about $47,000 in cash, and Libertarian Lloyd Princeton had about $400, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The winner will succeed Lujan Grisham, who’s leaving the U.S. House to run for governor.

In the 2nd Congressional District, Democrat Xochitl Torres Small had about $496,000 in cash on hand and Republican Yvette Herrell had about $100,000.

The 2nd Congressional District covers southern New Mexico. Incumbent Republican Steve Pearce opted to run for governor rather than seek re-election.

Dan McKay: