Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – From hard-hitting billboards to television ads, outside groups are aiming to ramp up public pressure on New Mexico lawmakers as a 30-day legislative session approaches.
One progressive advocacy group is launching a billboard campaign Monday – including two billboards along Interstate 25 between Albuquerque and Santa Fe – that targets legislators’ votes on abortion-related issues, including a bill to repeal a long-dormant state abortion ban.
And a Washington, D.C.-based group is spending $175,000 to launch a TV ad blitz urging legislators to support a proposal backed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to create a new early childhood endowment fund.
“When it comes to our kids’ potential, the sky is the limit,” says the narrator of the 30-second ad, which will run through the last day of the legislative session on three Albuquerque-based network stations and several cable and digital channels.
The group behind the ad, Save the Children Action Network, also supported Lujan Grisham’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign with a $400,000 ad buy on broadcast TV and online.
Lobbying campaigns are nothing new when it comes to New Mexico legislative sessions, but such efforts typically take place in Roundhouse hallways.
More visible lobbying campaigns have not always been successful at swaying New Mexico legislators on public policy issues.
For instance, a billboard campaign several years ago that targeted Democratic senators over a separate early childhood proposal – one that involves diverting more money from the state’s largest permanent fund – did not lead to the measure’s approval.
But backers of the new ad campaigns say they’re hopeful of raising public awareness on hot-button issues.
Marianna Anaya, the communications director for ProgressNow New Mexico, the advocacy group launching the abortion rights campaign, said the billboards are part of a broader attempt to mobilize state residents on the issue.
While New Mexico is among the states with the fewest abortion restrictions, some Democrats have expressed concern about the possibility of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning a 1973 decision that made the procedure legal nationwide.
“These billboards are about fighting back against the anti-abortion extremists who are trying to control our bodies,” said Anaya.
In addition to the two billboards along I-25, similar abortion-themed billboards will be displayed on a truck that will drive around downtown Santa Fe on the legislative session’s opening day.
A new version of the abortion bill pushed last year by Lujan Grisham is not included on the governor’s agenda for this year’s session.
The bill died on the Senate floor last year when eight Senate Democrats joined the chamber’s Republican members in voting against it and Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, recently said during a pre-session event that “we simply do not have the votes” to pass the legislation during this year’s 30-day session, according to a Santa Fe New Mexican report.
The legislative session begins Tuesday and goes until Feb. 20.