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New ads hit TV in race for governor

With just two months until Election Day, new television ads are hitting the airwaves in New Mexico’s gubernatorial race.

Republican Steve Pearce launched a 30-second spot Wednesday that highlights what he described as his plans to improve public schools, including proposed changes to the state’s standardized testing system and more money earmarked for classrooms.

“Good teachers don’t give up on their kids — as governor, I won’t give up on our teachers,” a smiling Pearce says in the ad.

The Pearce campaign is spending roughly $130,000 to run the ad on Albuquerque-based network and cable channels, a campaign adviser told the Journal.

Pearce, whose mother was a teacher, has sought to distance himself in some areas from the education policies of outgoing Gov. Susana Martinez, a fellow Republican.

However, his Democratic opponent, Michelle Lujan Grisham, has landed the endorsement of both of the state’s largest teachers unions.

And a Lujan Grisham campaign spokesman responded to the new ad by citing some of Pearce’s past votes on education-related bills and pointing out that Pearce has not said whether he would halt a planned appeal of a state judge’s landmark ruling dealing with education funding levels for at-risk students.

Meanwhile, the political arm of a New Mexico environmental group launched a TV ad Wednesday that targets Pearce’s record on environmental issues, including his support of a plan to shrink the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, near Las Cruces.

The ad is narrated by Don Schreiber, a rancher who lives in the San Juan Basin. It cites hefty financial contributions received by Pearce from the oil and natural gas industry, while claiming the energy industry has not been a good steward of public lands.

The Conservation Voters New Mexico Verde Voters Fund said the ad would be part of a $500,000 series aimed at informing voters about Pearce’s ties to the oil and natural gas industry.

The group also said Pearce was among its “dirty dozen” of state-level candidates it hopes to defeat this year.

The Verde Voters Fund has gotten big contributions in recent months from out-of-state entities, including a $150,000 donation in May from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Dan Boyd: