Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
With party primaries still more than six months away, nearly $3 million has been raised by four candidates in the 2020 2nd Congressional District race in the southern half of the state for the seat currently held by Democrat Xochitl Torres Small.
That’s about $1 million more than has been raised in the crowded 3rd Congressional District race, which has had as many as 15 candidates seeking to replace Democrat Ben Ray Luján, who is running for Senate, and five times the amount raised in the 1st Congressional District race, where Democrat Deb Haaland is seeking a second term.
And the amount doesn’t include thousands of dollars being spent by outside groups seeking to influence the race. One group, the American Action Network – affiliated with Republican House leadership – recently spent $168,000 in television advertising and $50,000 in digital ads targeting Torres Small on impeachment, urging her to vote against impeaching President Donald Trump.
Members of Congress have weighed in on the race. Torres Small has received donations from the campaigns or PACs backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and California Reps. Ted Lieu and Adam Schiff. Former state Rep. Yvette Herrell has received support from North Carolina Republican Congressman Mark Meadows and Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan. Roswell oil and gas executive Claire Chase has received support from a PAC led by Oklahoma Republican Congressman Markwayne Mullin.
Chase has tried to tie Torres Small’s contributions from Schiff to the congresswoman’s decision in October to back the impeachment inquiry, accusing Torres Small of receiving thousands of dollars from Schiff, who has played a key role in the impeachment inquiry as House Intelligence chairman. Chase accused Torres Small and other Democratic lawmakers of a “real quid pro quo.”
But Federal Election Commission filings show Torres Small receiving only $2,000 in donations from Schiff’s USA PAC in March and a $2,000 donation from Schiff for Congress on June 28, a month before President Donald Trump’s phone conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, which is given as the reason for the impeachment inquiry and three months before Pelosi formally opened the inquiry. There were no donations from Schiff in the third quarter of the year.
Xochitl Torres Small
Torres Small has raised more than $1.6 million in her bid for a second term. She has received more than $990,000 in large individual contributions, almost $388,000 in PAC contributions and almost $190,000 in contributions of $200 or less. She is the only Democrat in the race.
Among her most notable donations include $4,000 from Nancy Pelosi for Congress and $10,000 from PAC to the Future, Pelosi’s PAC. She has received contributions from environmental advocates such as an award-winning documentary producer Linda Cornfield, who donated $2,800 last quarter; women’s issues advocates such as Annette Cumming, executive director of the Cumming Foundation, who also contributed $2,800 and health and education advocates Anita and Joshua Bekenstein, Boston-area philanthropists who contributed $2,800 each.
Among her top contributors from New Mexico are PNM Chairwoman Patricia Vincent Collawn, Albuquerque Heritage Hotels CEO James Long and Heritage Hotels and Resorts President Andrian Perez. They each contributed $5,600.
According to OpenSecrets.org, $114,000 of Torres Small’s donations have come from Democratic and liberal related donors, $95,000 from attorneys and law firms, $94,000 from labor, $93,000 from leadership PACs, $90,000 from women’s issues donors, $65,000 from securities and investment donors and $42,500 from the education sector. More than $35,000 came from the health industry and $34,000 came from the agribusiness sector.
“The outpouring of support I have received from across New Mexico is both overwhelming and energizing,” Torres Small said. “New Mexicans remain committed to supporting those who will work with anyone to get things done. Our shared challenges – health care accessibility, crumbling infrastructure and a broken border security and immigration system – can only be solved with community driven solutions.”
Chase, a Republican, has raised more than $510,000 in only a quarter of campaigning. More than $495,000 came in large individual donations. She raised more than $8,300 in contributions of $200 or less.
Donors with oil and gas and trucking company connections played major rolls in Chase’s initial quarter fundraising success, as did contributions from her own family. Seven members of the Chase family each contributed $5,600 to the campaign, according to FEC filings. According to OpenSecrets.org, she has received $51,300 from the oil and gas industry, $23,000 from the transportation industry, $13,800 from health professionals, $4,200 agribusiness and $1,000 from leadership PACs.
Notable contributors include Enduring Resources Vice President Alex B. Campbell of Denver, who donated $5,000; Tom Brantley of Brantley Farms in Carlsbad, who contributed $5,600; trucking company Babe Development Co. of Roswell contributed $5,600 and HollyFrontier Corp., a petroleum refining company, donated $5,000.
“This huge local support is another strong indication that the people of New Mexico want change,” Chase said. “They are tired of the endless political games Democrats play while states like New Mexico suffer.”
Herrell, a Republican, has raised more than $441,000. She has received more than $367,000 in large individual contributions and almost $63,000 in contributions of $200 or less. Herrell has received $15,800 in PAC contributions. She has received about $25,000 from the oil and gas industry and about $24,000 from agribusiness, according to OpenSecrets.org. She’s gotten $18,500 from the finance-real estate industry, $17,000 from the construction industries and $4,050 from the health care industry.
Her top contributors include Las Vegas billionaire Cary Katz, a founder of a student loan company and part-time poker player who contributed $5,600 to her campaign; Charles and Amelia Saulsbury of Odessa, Texas, contributors of the Trump Victory campaign, who contributed $5,600; Roswell resident Mark Murphy, president of Murphy Petroleum, who contributed $5,500 and Derrell W. Riggan of Merkel, Texas, who donated $5,000.
Among her notable New Mexico donors are New Mexico House Minority Leader Jim Townsend of Artesia, who contributed $2,500 to her campaign during the past quarter.
“It is clear that our pro-Trump, pro-jobs, and pro-Constitution message is resonating with New Mexicans across the 2nd District,” Herrell said at the end of the quarter. “In addition to this financial backing we are honored to have so many endorsements from national conservative leaders like Reps. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows, along with New Mexico leaders like GOP Leader Jim Townsend, Cowboys for Trump and 12 constitutional sheriffs.”
Las Cruces businessman Chris Mathys, a Republican, has self-financed his campaign with $226,000. He has received $5,500 in large contributions and more than $1,600 in contributions of $200 or less.
American Action Network spokesman Calvin Moore told the Journal his group’s ad campaign isn’t involved with the race itself, but simply urging Torres Small to vote against impeachment. But in his original email to the Journal about the advertisements, he said it was an ad campaign “against” Torres Small and pointed out that American Action Network is a sister group to the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is the Super PAC aligned with House Republican Leadership. Torres Small is one of 37 members of Congress the group is targeting.
And it isn’t the only organization spending money in the 2nd Congressional District.
The House Freedom Fund has spent more than $67,000 in support of Herrell’s campaign, according to OpenSecrets,org. The two largest contributors to the House Freedom Fund are the Meadows and Jordan congressional campaigns.
The Super PAC Stars and Stripes Forever – founded by John Philip Sousa IV, great-grandson of the renowned composer – has spent $932 against Torres Small.